This is the second part of my list. Here’s the first part, in case you missed it: 40 Things I’ve Learned in my 40s: Part 1
21. Quality really does trump quantity. From clothes, to shoes, to cookware, to cars: you get what you pay for. When you’re in your 20s, you can get get away with cheap-and-cute; being trendy and irreverent is part of your allure, and your lifestyle doesn’t warrant top-of-the-line cookware, right? In your 40s, if you clothe and surround yourself with low-quality items, you just look…cheap. And you will have to replace those cheap things over and over.
22. Your philosophy changes to fewer, better. Because of #21, if you can’t purchase it immediately, you’d rather hold out for that investment piece. You now know that it’s pointless to buy an inferior, temporary replacement, because when the stand-in falls apart down the track, you’ll end up buying the quality item anyway. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. The things should reflect your dedication.
23. Have a signature meal you can throw together practically blindfolded. Whether it’s a killer pot roast, a delicious quiche, or a fantastic salad, perfect at least one meal you can contribute at potlucks or serve at your home. It will save you every time.
24. There is nothing better than true, I-know-myself, been-there-before confidence. Thought you were hot shit at 24? Wait until you’re 44. You might not be as supple, but you’ll be 100 times more confident and accomplished. And it makes almost everything a hell of a lot easier, because…
25. You really don’t give a shit. What other people think of you. Or expect from you. You march to the beat of your own drum. And it is LIBERATING.
26. When it comes to relationships, you know exactly what you don’t want, and what you won’t forgive. In fact, your bullshit meter will be so finely-tuned, you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated or believed some of those bullshit artists in your past. Then you’ll chalk it up to youth, because there is no other logical explanation.
27. You don’t have FOMO, you have FOGO. In your 40s, you’re more likely to suffer from Fear of Going Out than Fear of Missing Out. By now you’ve created a nice life and space for yourself. You actually prefer to stay home and avoid the shenanigans, pickup lines, and games of the 20- and 30-somethings on the scene.
28. Time is more precious. So you aren’t willing to waste it on inconsiderate people, lame books, or sleeping half the day away. It’s all about relationships, discovery, and quality of life. Carpe diem.
29. You’re OK with being alone, traveling alone, even dining alone. Sure, it’s nice to have a companion. But if you don’t, or your partner can’t travel with you, you are not about to hide in your hotel room. You’re not afraid to go out there and be/do/see—all on your own.
30. You will fall into one of two categories: Kids, or No Kids. And once you’re in one, you rarely commiserate with the other. Go back to #19 in part 1…it will help you understand why your friends in the opposite camp don’t really hang out with you anymore. That’s OK. You’re living in two totally different worlds.
31. You finally, really and truly understand your parents. Why they made the choices they made, why they said what they did, why they do what they do. Even if you don’t agree, you will get it. And you may even appreciate a lot of it as well.
32. Run like hell from anyone who exhibits cruelty to animals, is condescending to wait staff or service people, or ever raises a hand to you. They’ve given you the gift of showing you their true colors, perhaps before it is too late. Cut ties as soon as you witness any of the above. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES.
33. Never call on anyone socially and arrive empty-handed. If you’ve been invited to anyone’s home for any occasion, never, ever cross the threshold without some kind of gift. It can be flowers, wine, a dessert, a gift basket, anything. When someone opens their home to you, it’s like they are opening their soul to you. Home is their sanctuary…you should always be honored to be invited in, and bringing a small gift is a small way to acknowledge the gesture.
34. Even if you don’t agree, there are some double standards you must accept. Like the fact that men will always be revered for an outrageous, unbridled sexual history, and women will be shamed. And by accept, I don’t mean like. You might be able to look in the mirror and like yourself no matter what decisions you have made. But don’t think that just because it’s the 21st century and “everybody’s doing it,” that everyone will have the same outlook. This particular double standard has continued for centuries. So be prepared to accept the consequences of all your actions made sober, drunk, young, and old alike.
35. Ladies, there is a high probability that in your 40s, you will regret any tattoo you got in your 20s. I don’t speak from experience, mind you, but I speak from a point of observation. Nearly every female celebrity who is now a mom or in her 40s has expressed regret over some tattoo procured in the folly of her youth. If you really, really want a tattoo, you should probably wait until your 30s and then re-evaluate. Look, I don’t care what you do with your body. I’m just sayin’. You will actually think very differently from 25 to 30, and then from 30-40 and beyond.
36. Patience is a virtue worth developing. I’m always working on this one, because I’m such a take-charge kind of personality. But patience is often the best response when someone angers or irritates you, when you can’t seem to make something work, or can’t get what you want, now. Most of the time, being patient gives you the clarity and calmness you need to navigate difficult situation. And being patient keeps you from forcing doors open that the universe is trying to keep shut. They say everything happens for a reason; patience allows you to eventually see that reason, clearly.
37. Trust your gut. Your intuition is always right. If you feel red flags going up, do not ignore them. If you feel like you are in danger, do not worry about being polite or looking crazy or anything. DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.
38. The way to almost anyone’s heart really is through their stomach. It’s true. Think back to your childhood…any vivid, food-based memories spring to mind? Yeah, I thought so. Food is a multi-sensory experience, which is why it is so powerful in making a positive (or negative) impact. Especially today, food prepared by you for others is a labor of love. Do not underestimate the potential of a delicious, home-cooked meal! (Reference #23 above.)
39. The Golden Rule serves you best in any situation. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Enough said.
40. You learn that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Trust me on this one…I just learned it for good this week when I found out a beloved aunt passed away, very tragically and unexpectedly. She had called me last Wednesday while I was at work and left me a voicemail asking me to please call her back. I didn’t. And now I have to live with what might have happened had I picked up the phone that day. What might not have happened had I taken the time to talk to her.
So when your loved one calls and misses you, even if you can’t call them back immediately, at least text and let them know you will call later. And then call later. Same day. Even if you have 8,000 things on your plate. Listen to them today. Tell them you love them today.
Because tomorrow is never guaranteed.