50 years…wiser?

It won’t be long now until I  pass what is considered a major milestone – turning 50 years old.

It’s kind of unreal to think that I am that old…that in fact I likely have fewer days in front of me than behind me. It doesn’t feel any different, actually, other than it hurts when I get up in the morning, until I move around. I have grey hair. I have wrinkles. I have a lot of wonderful memories and a lot of things I have forgotten.

If I reflect on my life now, I have a few things I would tell my younger self. Some of them are affirmations of what I did right in the last 50 years. Some are warnings, and some are just wishes that I was a little gentler with myself. I still need reminders to be gentle and kind to myself.

The (not quite) 50 things I would tell my younger self

Thank you for being active! I played sports all my life, and continue to enjoy a variety of exercise. While I probably don’t “work out” as hard or as regularly as I should, I do enjoy being active and being outside. Over the years, sport has given me a strong body, strong mind, and a myriad of friends and experiences that I would not have otherwise enjoyed.

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Don’t be so hard on yourself! We can probably all heed this advice. My inner voice continues to tell me I’ve done something wrong, I haven’t done enough, I’m not good enough, thin enough, smart enough…etc. I am enough, I have enough, I do enough. I do my best, every day, and that is good enough.

Learn from your mistakes, and be easier on yourself when you make them. Because you will make a lot of mistakes. While I need to remember that I am good enough, I can also learn from the mistakes I have made. And I have made many. If I reflect on what I’ve done in the past, and think about what I can do to be better, I can then leave those mistakes in the past instead of dwelling on them.

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Go for it. I have never regretted taking a trip, embarking on a new experience, traveling and enjoying life. Push out of the comfort zone and enjoy the feeling. Jump from that cliff! Dive in that ocean! Eat the crickets! Go to Oktoberfest and drink a big beer!

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Spend time with your “elders.” Cherish your grandparents and parents. Ask about their lives. Write down their history. This is something I wish I would have done more.

Don’t worry about a big fancy house and keeping up with the neighbours. I am grateful that I was always able to afford a comfortable home, but also glad I didn’t overspend so that I was always able to travel. Experiences have always been more valuable to me than things, and I have enjoyed many wonderful experiences. I hope to experience many more.

Save for retirement. Enjoy your experiences but set money aside so you can enjoy leisure time and more travel when you are still young and healthy.

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Enjoy what you do, but don’t bleed for your job. Pick a career that brings you joy. Every job includes crap, but you shouldn’t hate going to work. At the same time, don’t sacrifice family or your health for a job. It is still just a job.

Those big deals in high school aren’t big deals. Remember how it seemed like high school was so big and important and what happened there would affect your life forever? It doesn’t. Enjoy your time there, but remember it ends and life goes on.

You really don’t have to fit in. Growing up, there is so much pressure to fit in. Even as adults, there is pressure to be like someone else, have as big a house as someone else, give your kids the same experiences as others. Be yourself. I was always a bit different, and definitely a tomboy, so I’m glad I took the opportunity to just be me. Be silly. Laugh at yourself.

Appreciate your beauty, inside and out. I continue to be hard on myself about this one. We are all beautiful and unique, and don’t need to look like the airbrushed models in the magazines. Stop criticizing yourself and just wear the damn bathing suit. Look after yourself and smile at the mirror!

Don’t worry so much about what others think. I guess this is related to the previous two. I get better at this one as I get older. I have myself to look after, and if other people don’t like it, they can look the other way. I am who I am.

Spend time with your child instead of worrying about housework. I never regret the moments I spent with my son as he was growing up. I do regret times that I didn’t spend with him, but I did my best. When you’re with your kids, be with them. For god’s sake, put down that phone!

Be easy on the skin around your eyes! When I look in the mirror, I can see that I clearly didn’t!

Don’t spend time suntanning!! I needed to heed this better. Wear the sunscreen.

Look after yourself. Love yourself. It makes everything better.

And in the next 50 years, I plan to heed my own advice.

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