First, apologies to James Moore, an outspoken hater of lists.
Second, because being 40 is weird, and because I still remember looking in the mirror at 17 and wondering about “adulthood,” I wanted to make a list of things learned. Not necessarily for my former self who will obviously never read this and therefore never benefit from it, but because like everyone else who is fortunate enough to make it to 40, I’m almost positive I’ve learned something that someone alive right this moment doesn’t yet know.
Top 10 things that come to mind that might benefit someone navigating life between the ages of 17 and 40
1. If you’re a teenager, you may look at adulthood, or at people ages…say, 30 and up, in one of two ways: 1. They’re/we’re boring and basically dead and so why bother living because they’re/we’re just going to die soon, anyway, or 2: “They get to do anything they want, whenever they want, without having to consult ANYONE!”
It’s the latter. You are right to be impatient for it and your envy is completely justifiable.
2. High school memories have a tendency to stick, for some reason.
3. Women can be every bit as sexist toward women as can the most sexist of men, but they’re worse, because they think their vaginas give them the right to be sexist toward other people who have vaginas.
4. A certain amount of willful ignorance is good for the soul. Otherwise, it can be too easy to build layers of rage in response to insufferably unreasonable and intolerably cruel humans who share the planet. (Which is great for the liquor business.)
It’s important to know they’re out there, but after that, it’s okay to pretend they don’t exist, because your rage and sorrow doesn’t change who they are or what they do. The rage and sorrow only changes you.
5. A passion is never silly. People are drawn to things that make them happy, whether what makes them happy is activism, parenting, chemistry, dance, medicine, fashion, writing, acting, or politics. It can be tempting to think, “Well, all I do is ____, which is pointless, really, because it’s not like I’m saving lives or changing the world.”
We’d be in trouble if all we had were activists and doctors. Who would write about them or play them on TV?
6. No one has to be, and shouldn’t feel like they “should” want to be, a parent. It’s a choice like any other, except that it’s entirely unlike any other because it involves creating and managing a whole new human being.
7. Time doesn’t go faster as you get older. It just seems like it does because there’s more time to look back on, and when you do, you think, “Woah, when did THAT happen?” But I can say from an experience I am currently experiencing that today is lasting just as long as yesterday did. Four o’clock is still many hours away. Many, many hours away.
8. Giving something up because you want to do something else more isn’t called “sacrifice.” It’s called “choice.” Knowing it’s a choice makes it a little easier to swallow because, hey, you made that choice.
9. Eventually, the ability to guess ages fades. Children become “I don’t know, this high,” you think people in their mid-twenties look about your age, and you think people your age look older than you do even though you look exactly like they do. (It’s true. You do.)
10. A girl who wants to hit a guy would do well to first pretend it’s a sure thing that he’s going to hit her back. And if she does hit him, with luck, he will.