40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years of Life

welp, here it is—the introspective 40th birthday post. 
brown haired girl in deep thought; pensive
(via Unsplash)

I’m actually not sad about turning 40. I don’t have kids or a house or a husband (yet), but I’ve realized more than anything, it’s about your mental state, confidence and having people around who care about you. I mean, I’d be lying if I said there aren’t things I definitely want more now than I did before, or that I don’t compare myself to others from time to time (who doesn’t?), but all I have to work with is the present, so—.

The real gift I wanted for myself was going into this birthday healthy—mentally, physically, emotionally healthy. I wanted to feel the most focused I’ve ever been on organizing a 17-person birthday weekend by myself, while feeling totally content going into the experience. I can confidently say I’m a far more self-aware, self-confident person today than I was five years ago.

On my last semi-big birthday, hardly any of my friends had kids yet. At 35, we were essentially living like we were still 26, but with higher-paying jobs. 40 is definitely a different feeling. It’s like, ok in 10 years, you’re gonna be 50. 50! Wow. I still feel really young, and honestly, none of my friends have changed all that much. They just have more responsibilities and bigger flexes than they did 10 years ago. But it still does feel like an age of note. Personally, I think an LA 40 is a great place to be. I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but here I feel like I still have my youth in the form of career creativity and people who I spend time with (or even just alone). 

I didn’t feel much different about 40 going into the weekend of my celebration, but once it actually hit, it was like people say—things just clicked. So many things felt more clear to me overnight. I had this really intense moment (which I’ll share another day) the final night of my birthday trip. The reiki healing I received a few days prior kicked in, and for the whole night I had this really magical epiphany. It was a pretty surreal experience.

It’s funny to think when I was growing up, the idea of turning 40 definitely seemed old. Even when I was 35, the thought of dating a 40 year old was like…… But times have changed, and plus, everyone says your 40s are great. I didn’t bat an eye when I turned 30. I think because it seemed like everyone else around me was also 30, or like 28. Now it feels like everyone is so young—or younger than me at least, or younger on TikTok! At 40 without kids, it can definitely be a feeling of what’s my role? Am I supposed to act a certain way with a specific level of maturity? Or can I just continue being myself? 

I guess I’ll learn more firsthand in the months and years to come. But in the meantime, turning 40 just couldn’t happen without a “40 things I’ve learned…” post, so here you have it. In the words of Britney Spears promoting Britney Jean, my most personal album post yet. All my pearls of wisdom (in no particular order). Read at your own discretion! 😉

girl is journaling with coffee and computer in front of her
(via Unsplash)

1. Turning 40 comes with societal pressures, grey hairs, hangovers and wrinkles—but also, wisdom, confidence, maturity and true, established relationships. Age is a catch22. Like, can I be in my 40-year-old state of mind at the age of 30, please? I don’t want to be the person I was when I was 30, but I would also like 10 years of my life back knowing then what I know now. It’s very complicated. I feel like I’m 10 years behind, but I’ve always felt that way. 

2. Say what you want about LA, but that place keeps you young. For all the late nights that turned into mornings (or later *wink*), why do I look way better today than I did 10 years ago? And same goes for pretty much every LA person I know! People’s energies and lifestyles also feel so much younger here, too.

3. No one wants to be around a downer. Everyone goes through their ups and downs, but the person who is perpetually complaining or sick or tired is pushing people away. I’ve been that girl and I’ve been around that girl. No one wants it.

4. Don’t chase anything except your dreams and your money. Don’t chase people, approval, plans, highs. The universe can feel your desperation and it never ends well. 

5. Roller coasters are only fun at amusement parks. So many of us are programmed to accept high and lows as normal ways of life–and ugh, take the calm, level-headed approach. When you’ve experienced enough highs and lows in life, after a while, those anticlimactic, vanilla periods of time start feeling like highs because your head is clear and that’s good enough.  

6. Whether you’re turning 40 or 14, birthdays should always make you feel special. It’s the one commonality everyone on the planet has the capacity to celebrate regardless of accolades or socioeconomic status. It’s an opportunity for loved ones to show they care, or people from the past to say they miss you. Everyone deserves to be celebrated in some way or another. So don’t ever feel bad for embracing your big day.

7. Alcohol is one of the most complicated things you’ll ever deal with (if you choose to go that route). It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s the root of so much evil, yet it has a manipulative way of drawing many of us in time and time again. It’s the toxic, fun friend you know you should stay away from but you often can’t resist. It causes weight gain, anxiety and regret—yet can also be the time of your life. It’s an incredibly slippery slope, and balancing that one is among life’s biggest challenges. 

8. Never underestimate the power of a shower. If you’re feeling angsty or your day has been a drag, there’s something truly cleansing literally and figuratively about a hair and body rinse, followed by sitting on your bed and meditating (whatever that means to you) for even five minutes. It’s a great way to reset and reenergize.

9. LA can go one of two ways for transplants. I’ve seen the lonely, empty side and I’ve seen the most fulfilling side that truly feels like home. Once you have a career, I find that the rest falls into place. To make it as a transplant, you need to have money, looks or power in some form. My first two years here were really sad. But once I got a legitimate “cool” job and had even the tiniest ounce of clout, I found my way. You have to move here for the right reasons, not because you want to be the next Addison Rae. 

10. Some people say not to have expectations for anyone, but that’s just not possible. When someone gives you all the signs that they consider you a friend, it’s only natural to expect certain things. I can’t expect everyone to be my everything, but I can’t let go of having the bare minimum expectations of people who seemingly consider us close. That’s human.

11. Energy healing is a beautiful thing. For me, personally, traditional therapy has never worked. If you’re genuinely open to energy healing and you connect with the right healer, the possibilities are mindblowing.

12. Don’t stress college grades! I found my college experience to be valuable in many, many ways, but unless you’re going to grad school, your grades don’t matter as long as you do well enough to graduate (and do well in courses that pertain to your major). Absolutely no one cares about your grades after college. All I cared about was having a career and doing well at it. Geology filler classes taught me absolutely nothing. Use college to learn life skills, meet unique people and figure out what you love.  

13. Your feelings are valid. Maybe if society allowed us to accept that jealousy, comparison, disappointment and other things involving how we feel are normal, we would be able to process them more effectively and maybe not face them as much. We’re basically encouraged to compartmentalize or ignore the way we feel, and to “only focus on yourself.” But if I’m feeling a certain way about a person or a situation, then that is focusing on myself.

14. Protect your energy! If there’s literally nothing in it for you and it’s only going to bring you down, don’t do or go to something to be “nice” or because everyone else is doing it. Unless it will truly have a negative impact on a relationship with someone you care about, don’t do it if it will bring your energy down.

15. It’s ok to have regrets! I have so many, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. The important thing is learning from them and actually changing your behavior when you’re sick of the same outcome. It doesn’t take away from the fact you wish you could do certain things all over again.

16. The second you truly, genuinely stop caring about everyone else is the second they start caring about you. It’s a general rule of the universe’s energy. 

17. Don’t let anyone steer you away from having standards and going after what you want. It’s your life and your journey. You don’t have to give everything a chance, or settle for what doesn’t feel totally right for you. Success is the best revenge—in any area of your life. Go after everything you want, and if you encounter haters along the way, that’s completely normal. People often root for the underdogs until they begin flourishing. Don’t be surprised if you lose supporters as you rise.

18. I completely understand why society discourages people from getting married in their early twenties. It’s so true that you evolve and become a completely different person from that time in your life. It’s so easy to grow apart from people, especially once you’re exposed to more life experiences, jobs, travels and different types of people.  

19. If there’s something public you’re going after, tell anyone who will listen. That will wear off the shock value. If you’re sheepish about it, more people will talk behind your back and you’ll feel less secure about what you’re doing. Put it out there and just do it.

20. On the flip side, however, if you’re working on something behind closed doors that hasn’t come to fruition, work hard in silence. Let your success do the talking. The more people you tell before your project sees the light of day, the more energy you invite to potentially change your outcome.

21. People enter your world for a lifetime or a season, but always for a reason. Whether they serve a purpose during a particular phase in your life, or they lead you to someone more impactful, it never feels like anyone’s a complete, 100% waste.

22. Piggybacking on the above, the older I get, the much easier I’ve come to terms with friendships gone awry. You’ll never want big, dramatic falling-outs, but no longer being someone’s cup of tea is a natural life progression that we experience on both ends. I also find that when one door closes, another one immediately opens and we just kind of move on in our new direction. Friendships in general come in seasons. That was difficult for me to grasp for years. And then once things slowed down amid lockdown, I realized that everything ebbs and flows, and that’s ok.

23. As bad as you may feel in this very moment is as good as you may feel two days from now, a week from now (and vice versa). Emotions, encounters and relationships are truly ever changing—and whenever I’m feeling low, I have to remind myself how quickly things change, even though it’s so difficult in the moment.

24. Always strive to look back at your life a year from now and cringe just a tiny bit (hear me out)… You always want to progress. You always want to see yourself as a much more evolved person a year later even if in the moment you were so sure of yourself. As much as it sucks, the more embarrassed you are about yourself a year ago represents the growth you’ve established in the present. Regardless of your achievements or happiness, you should never stop evolving.

25. You are who you hang out with–really. My life became so much more productive when I spent all my time with people who weren’t just there for fun conversation, but who really lift me up, encourage me, and do what they can to help me out. Naturally, you’re more inclined to move in the direction of the people you surround yourself with. 

26. Nature is one of the most beautiful, healing things we all have access to. I wish I’d recognized that earlier in life. 

27. There’s nothing wrong with stereotypical smalltalk openers when you meet someone new. I don’t know why people harp on that. Guess what? Knowing where someone is from and what they do for a living could play a huge role in the future of our discussion. I like getting to know people’s background. I don’t think you need to dive into “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” These aren’t job interviews. 

28. Looks aren’t everything, but they’re very important—who are we kidding? That said, looks without a matching personality mean absolutely nothing. 

29. Common sense is your biggest asset; Google is your best friend. It’s totally fine to ask for help, but not before exploring all other options. No one wants to hang out with an idiot. It’s not cute. 

30. Time heals all wounds—and if they’re still not healed, you still have time.

31. The word “attractive” doesn’t mean textbook hot. It simply means it attracts you. If the only thing you care about is looks, then that’s your version of “attractive.” I see the term referring to swagger and confidence in addition to looks. How someone carries themself and approaches life is what makes them attractive. How they dress, their vocabulary, who they hang out with, their career ambitions, what they care about. Looks definitely play a big role for sure, but that’s one facet of the whole package. All of that said, attraction is so important when considering a romantic partner. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. If you know you’ll never be attracted to a particular person, move on.

32. Botox returns 10 years of youth back to you. If there’s one tweakment you make to your face, make it that. But don’t go overboard!

33. It sounds cliché but it’s true: If they wanted to they would. No matter how busy, stressed or broke someone is, if they care about you, they’ll find a way to show it. It doesn’t have to be big things, but any kind of gesture that reminds you that you matter to them. Some people (so-called friends, romantic interests, whatever the case may be) just aren’t that into you (at least not enough to make it count). When you come to terms with that reality, move on and put your energy elsewhere. Stop going out of your way for people who don’t reciprocate the effort. It won’t make them change how they feel about you.

34. To really build your confidence or your personal brand, dance like everyone’s watching, not like no one’s watching. 

35. YOLO is a fun motto, but I have zero desire to go bungee jumping or on an epic hike. Just because we only live once doesn’t mean we should feel compelled to do things we literally have zero interest in doing. Tell me I have one day to live and skydiving will be the very last thing on my list. 

36. A happy wife is a happy life! I say this figuratively. But in general, when someone close to you is jolly and doing great, it usually benefits your friendship or relationship with them. So instead of getting down or comparing, just take it as a win-win for everyone. 

37. The concern isn’t over whether people are always talking about you behind your back—it’s that they have talked about you; they have made their decision about you. And the difficulty to change their opinion is the actual part we fear. 

38. As you get older, you really understand the value of supportive parents. The more people you meet, you learn that it’s pretty rare. 

39. One of my biggest life regrets is not working on myself sooner. For all the years I worried about what everyone else was doing and who they were hanging out with, I should have been in the gym, eating clean and working on my mental health. 

40. Turning 40 or otherwise, the older you get, the quicker time just soars on by. Growing up, years used to go by so slow. You’re stuck with boring classes and tons of schoolwork. Once you make a real life for yourself, time flies by. It’s actually kind of scary. Like so fast you actually pray that life will slow down. 

Now that you know my thoughts on turning 40, click HERE to read the 10 biggest lessons I learned from 10 years living in LA.

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