Funny thing happened to me on my way to 40; I grew up. I learned so many things about myself and about life in general. If I had learned these things 20 years ago, I might have saved myself some major blunders. At 40, I think I am just starting to understand the meaning of life. I try to tell my daughters, but they think I don’t know anything. Hence, the reason I wrote number eight. Since they won’t listen, maybe some young person who didn’t have a mom or dad to tell them these things will. Here goes….
- Go to school and apply yourself. You’re the one who benefits. English is important because it teaches you how to communicate properly. Math is important because the world revolves around currency, statistics, and numbers. History is important because it teaches us about the past, present, and hopes of our future. Science is critical to the evolution of life and the elements that inhabit our lives. With all the social media outlets in the world, it would do young people some good to really apply themselves in school so that they can benefit from all the world has to offer. Don’t get on Facebook or Twitter and show us how stupid you are. Instead, get on and shine with all the amazing things you learned from your education. Apply yourself.
- Vote as soon as you turn 18. This is important and not just on a national level. Know what is happening in your state and your community. Change only happens in the world when we collectively get involved and try to promote it. Social changes can only happen when we get mad enough to spark the changes necessary in our communities. You must believe that your vote counts. Look at your surroundings and determine what needs to change. Now go change it.
- Travel at every opportunity as it presents itself. I have never gone to NYC. However, I have had a few opportunities to go. I should actually kick myself because once all I had to pay was for a $145 plane ticket. I’m still kicking myself. My friends went and had the time of their lives, but I tried to be the responsible one and missed an opportunity to live. Nowadays when opportunity calls and offers, I’m packing!
- Start what you finish. You will regret the times that you should have just kept at it. There are rewards to everything you start and finish. Starting is the easy part, but finishing is hard. In the end, the victor always gets the spoils.
- Find a friend, be a friend. In order to have a friend you must first be one. You won’t realize how important it is until you’re going through something and you can’t go to your mom, dad, or siblings for whatever reason. That one friendship from the friend who will be there no matter what is priceless. Similarly, they will have your back, but there’s only one catch. You must have theirs, too. Have at least one platonic friend in your life who knows you and who accepts you, flaws and all. Be that friend to them, as well.
- Don’t marry between the ages of 18-25. Don’t be in a hurry to get married or leave home. Live your life and enjoy being single. You will have plenty of time to marry, but don’t rush. Marriage is a lifetime commitment that many are not equipped to deal with at 30 or 40, much less between 18-25. Marriage requires maturity and maturity happens over time. Don’t make your life harder by rushing to the altar too soon. Be patient and live your life. Your husband or wife will thank you for it later. Don’t marry until you’re ready to be a husband or a wife. Marriage is serious and sacred union that requires two whole adults.
- Feed your dreams. Life is short and then we die. When we don’t follow our dreams, we lose a little bit of ourselves each day. Getting married is beautiful, having children is a blessing, but living out a dream is surreal. Live your life with no regrets. Start that business, write that book, or go on an African Safari. Whatever your hearts desire, just do it. You only live once.
- Listen to your elders. They usually speak from experience. We’ve all done it probably. Mom or dad gave us some great advice, but we didn’t listen because we thought they didn’t know anything. Consequently, they turned out to be right. My grandmother only had an eighth grade education, but she was the wisest person I know. She never traveled outside of our great state of Texas, she only read the newspaper and the Bible, but all of her advice was practical based on life experience. Listen when older, wiser individuals speak. They speak from experience. Experience is the best teacher.
- Be careful to whom you give your heart. There are a lot of predators in the world. Even though we all want and seek love, we aren’t all equipped or prepared to give it. Many of us are broken. When a broken person shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Don’t try to make them love you and don’t try to convince them that you’re lovable. Just turn and walk away. Don’t try to build a relationship with someone who hasn’t proven that they deserve your heart. You will end up disappointed every time. Build only with people who have proven that they are ready to receive your gift of love. That is shown in spoken word and deed.
- Have your children when you can enjoy them and support every minute of their growth. I got pregnant young and I spent most of my youth working to raise my children and provide for them. I missed a lot of tender moments trying to survive. If I could do it all over again, I would never have missed a single event. I would have been there at every basketball game, cheerleading event, or school event. I missed a lot and my babies were disappointed more times than not. Don’t have children before you’re ready to be a parent. I’m still trying to play catch up. Don’t be like me. Be wiser. Plan to marry, then procreate. Then, make sure you’re there to enjoy every single moment.
I have few regrets, but I plan to have even less before I die. I think I have finally learned the key to happiness. At 40, I’m finally living. It took a long time, but I’m so grateful I got here. Now it’s your turn to go out and give life a fair shot!