It seems spring is the time of year people publish articles and blogs about all the things they wish they’d known or did, or wish you to know or do. My email is the unwilling recipient of a tidal wave of titles from twenty and thirty-somethings touting 9 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About My 30s, Things I Wish I Knew at 25, and 25 Things You Must Know By The Time You Turn 30. Sites like Medium and Bloglovin rain thoughtful, provocative, timeless pearls of wisdom past my spam filter, filling the folder titled, “Emails from the Ninth Circle of Hell,” where a rule designed to keep them out of my inbox reroutes them until the highlighted unread-email indicator becomes sufficiently annoying as to require action.
Perhaps I’m simply feeling left out. After all, I had a birthday this year. In fact, there is a high likelihood that if you are reading this right now, you also had or will have a birthday this year—at least I hope as much, my ego can’t handle any fewer readers. We should all be able to share what we know.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the narcissism triumvirate: a blog, a medium.com account, and time. Accordingly, it is for you I accept the burden of memorializing the 18 Things Everyone Should Know Before Turning 49.33, no matter your age, education, voting record, DNA, income level, marital status, occupation, religion, technology savviness, physical composition, amount of medical marijuana use, ability to brew beer, gender or lack thereof—which is apparently also called non-binary, a bit of recently gained knowledge that will not appear in the below list.
1. There are almost 1.2 million Google results when searching for the phrase “things I wish I’d known before turning 30.” (without quotes).
Think about how much better your twenties would have been if only you’d had access to all those articles. You wasted so much time experiencing life when you could have read the Cliff notes. Bonus: There are also 5.2 million results for “turning 40,” 10.4 million results for “turning 50,” and 1.2 million results for “turning 60.”
2. If you move to Uganda in your late forties, you will be a statistical anomaly—which is pretty cool.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the median age in Uganda is 15.7 years—median is the point at which half the people are younger than this and half are older. Although it would seem to suck to be born in Uganda, by moving there in your late forties you become an outlier, and everyone knows being an outlier is da bomb!
3. All newborns are gross.
Seriously, all that wooing and cooing is simply your friend’s with dry heaves. Lets examine the facts: babies come from within the body, pass through the same orifice used to conceive them, exhibit unfused fontanelles to aid in evacuation and brain growth, and emerge looking like they just completed the Hag Fish Fear Factor episode. You think they are beautiful because you spent 11 hours in labor and you’re delirious. Thankfully, most babies eventually clean up well.
4. Things are far worse for most westerners than what you see in the news.
Just because the media’s goal is to improve revenue by framing the Trump presidency and Washington’s antics as the greatest threat to mankind, doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t real. So what if female infanticide, sexual violence, war, starvation, malnourishment, sweat shops, adolescent pregnancy, terrorism, and armed thugs who traffic in everything from drugs to people remain global issues. America’s problems are the world’s problems and we can solve them by marching in the streets, tweeting about Pepsi, and getting home in time for a hot meal, warm bed, and a few hours binge watching Naked and Afraid on Netflix before walking for a latte the next morning.
5. It is okay to be ignorant.
Nobody can force you to be an informed, well-read, intelligent, contributing member of society. If you don’t want to waste hours learning about global affairs, world cultures, and alternative viewpoints, that is your right according to 2nd Amendment. All that reading in order to speak intelligently about current affairs seems like such a waste when instead you could be watching reality TV, playing Candy Crush, or writing a blog.
6. Skip school.
School won’t teach you everything—like how to brew beer, get rid of hiccups, or make prison wine from bread, water, and fruit. Sure, study after study shows college graduates earn more money and have more career opportunities. But let’s not forget Timothy, Chapter 6, Verse 10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” A college education may provide more choices, but who needs that kind of pressure? Besides, if you go to college, who’s going to ring up my groceries at the checkout counter?
7. Sometimes it is personal.
You are definitely not too sensitive. You are free to believe people when they tell you the guy who screwed you over at work is just a jerk—but it is much more gratifying to take it personally, wait until they need you, and then tell them to go drown in their own urine.
8. It is possible to hate people and not hate a person.
I hate people. Given the choice, I’d rather live on an island with my 6 closest friends than in a city with good beer and daily happy hours from 3:00-9:00 PM. You get two or more people in one place and their decency drops exponentially. People vandalize, riot, litter, crowd, shove, judge, and stop thinking for themselves when the sum of their numbers exceeds the IQ of a single-celled organism. People suck. However, for the record, my island has great beer and happy hours every day from 8:00 AM until close.
9. Work smarter not harder.
The guy generally credited with coining the phrase “work smarter…not harder” is Allan Mogensen, the creator of the concept of work simplification. His intention was to highlight the value of creating processes that increase the output given the same amount of input over the same period of time. The unintended consequence of his enlightened viewpoint taken out of context by a bunch of lazy, entitled bunk-wagons is that millions of people believe doing the the bare minimum in six hours is the same as working 10 hours a day. As far as the rest of us are concerned, please continue to work smarter not harder—we will continue to do both.
10. Never choose the right thing.
There may be times when you will have to choose between the right thing, and the professionally safe and personally expedient thing. The right thing might seem the way to go, but it is usually more difficult and could result in unintended career consequences. On the other hand, deciding to look out for yourself only makes you a sell out, coward rat who cares only about their own well-being. You decide.
11. Integrity is doing the right thing only when other people are watching.
While you are trying to figure out whether to do the right thing or not, you might as well take a look around and see who is watching. Why advocate on someone’s behalf, donate anonymously, or pack your garbage out of the open-air concert if nobody will notice. There is an “I” in life for a reason—because it is about I. Don’t worry about being a soul-less pig—you earned that five dollars the guy in front of you dropped.
12. It is always someone else.
If one person doesn’t like you, it’s on them. If a lot of people don’t like you, it’s still on them. You’re a great person even if everyone thinks you’re a horse’s ass.
13. Pessimism is better than optimism any day of the week.
Studies show optimistic people are happier, live longer, and lead more productive lives. But pessimists get to enjoy the silent, self-righteous life that comes from being a total downer. Remember, as a pessimist you only have to be right once.
14. A bad leader is better than no leader at all.
A position is open for a new manager to lead the team. Candidates submit resumes, interviews are conducted, and the finalist is just marginally better than Caligula. You need a butt in the seat, so you promote him and wonder six months later why half the organization’s morale and productivity are in the tank and your 360 reviews are dropping faster than a European Space Agency satellite. It’s because bad leaders spread their toxicity throughout the organization. But hey, you filled the position and that’s an accomplishment.
15. If you have a bunch of ineffective people working for you, it’s never your fault.
Teams fail all the time. Just because you can’t seem to make progress and everyone around you seems like a loser doesn’t mean it’s time to look in the mirror.
16. Carrying a grudge is the best way to remember the past.
Carrying around hate-filled, emotional baggage provides warmth on those cold, dark, lonely nights. Just because holding a grudge ad nauseam is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It is important to remember history with a fair helping of ire—lest we repeat it.
17. Birthdays only matter if you don’t make it to the next one.
That’s all—there is nothing to add.
18. If you do it right, you won’t feel as old as you are until it’s too late.
Live life. Have some fun. Keep physically and mentally active. Find a hobby. Never stop learning. Work—because you need to pay for life and fun—and carve out time to spend with the people you love. Engage in unhealthy activities in moderation and healthy activities to excess. By the time you realize you’re old you’ll be saying goodby for the last time.
That’s it. Eighteen things everyone should know before turning 49.33 years old. I feel much better now that I am part of the narcissistic blogosphere. If you want to be part of the fun, reply with one or more things you believe people should know or do before they turn 49.33, or any age.
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Unless otherwise noted, I drew or took the photographs in the article—as lame as they may look. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is probably planned. Copyright can be found here for my original work.