What I've Figured Out So Far - une femme d'un certain âge

What I’ve Figured Out So Far

A few days ago Shefaly at La Vie Quotidienne tagged me for a meme, Lessons in Hindsight. If I were to go back and give my 20-year-old self some advice, this would be it:

1. Very few decisions are irreversable or at least unalterable. Those choices that seem like life-and-death in your 20’s (which college to attend, which job to take, which shoes to wear on a first date) will not determine the outcome of your entire life. Relax, go with what makes sense at the time, and change course as necessary. While decisions do have consequences, your entire life is not cast in stone at 18, 21 or 35. Learn from mistakes and choose better next time.

2. A sense of humor will help get you through just about anything. Some of what happens in life is out of our control; the only thing we can control is how we respond to it. Humor can be a back door to finding strength and courage, and help keep the “poor-pitiful-me’s” in check.

3. You’re always committed to something, whether you’re aware of it or not. Examine your surroundings and relationships for a good indicator as to what you’ve been committed to. The trick to living an effective and satisfying life is to choose your committments consciously.

4. You can’t fuck someone into loving you.

5. Life is too short to fill it with people, activities, or possessions that you don’t enjoy. While there will always be some obligations you absolutely cannot wiggle out of, if the “shoulds” are running your life it’s time to step back and remind yourself that you do have a choice.

6. In many endeavors, the secrect to success is often just to outlast the bastards. Perserverance is an underrated virtue. Put your head down, do your work, do your best to stay out of the office politics.

7. For greater peace of mind, don’t take it personally. The grouchy taxi driver, the boss who doesn’t have time to read your report right now, the roommate who says she needs to study instead of going out for a beer, the boyfriend who stays up all night rebuilding a carburetor…in all likelihood it’s not because of something you said or did. Most people are caught up in their own Stuff, and if the sales clerk is less than helpful it’s probably because she’s upset over a fight with her boyfriend or is hung over, and not because she thinks you’re a disgusting slug because you didn’t wash your hair that morning.

8. Make kindness a way of life. Nothing else costs so little and yields so much. While some people may seem to bring their misfortunes on themselves, keep a healthy dose of “there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I” in mind.

9. What you put out into the universe will come back to you. Positive people tend to attract other positive people. Gratitude will bring you more to be grateful for.

10. My Goldilocks Philosophy: luxury isn’t about having more/bigger/more expensive, it’s about having what’s Just Right.
I’m tagging Maya’s Granny, materfamilias, and La Bellette Rouge (once the adrenaline from her Whirlwind Weasel tour of NY wears off) if they wish to participate. Anyone else who would like to run with the meme, go for it and leave a link in the comments!
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  1. January 24, 2008 / 4:50 pm

    An absolutely beautiful post. I wish I had written it. I will be sending my daughter over to read this, it says so much of what I would like to pass on to her, and says it so well.
    Thank you.

  2. January 24, 2008 / 5:08 pm

    You’re very welcome. Thank you for your nice comments.

  3. January 24, 2008 / 5:17 pm

    You can’t fuck someone into loving you.

    Amen. If only I could remember that regularly. Or if only men became emotionally attached during sex, too….

  4. January 24, 2008 / 5:52 pm

    Dejapseu: Thanks for running with the meme and what a lovely post it is! That tells me that in 20 years I should revisit my lessons and see if my own lessons change 🙂

    I hope you are keeping well. À votre santé!

  5. SadieSue
    January 24, 2008 / 9:03 pm

    That is wonderful. Thank you so much – I shall pass it along to my niece when she’s old enough (I think 4 months is just a wee bit too young =) )

  6. January 24, 2008 / 9:41 pm

    Miss J would call that good advice for any age. Well put, Deja.

  7. La Belette Rouge
    January 24, 2008 / 5:17 pm

    Deja Pseu,
    I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this post. What a great meme and what great advice you have for your younger self. I am so into this meme. I will absolutely play!!!

    I wish my 20 year old self had known and believed all those things. Thank heavens my 40 year old self does.
    I have been rereading it over and over trying to pick out a favorite–but I love them all. Okay, I really love #4. It is no truer of any of the others, I just LOVE your audacity in saying it.
    This is my favorite of your posts. I am printing it and keeping.
    Thank you, Deja!!!!
    Mwah-mwah(i.e. kiss-kiss)
    p.s. Thank you for the link to my NY adventures. I am looking forward to our L.A. adventures:-)

  8. January 25, 2008 / 3:07 am

    Excellent post! I often wish I could take an extension of #6 and make younger kids understand that – the most talented people are often NOT the best at whatever their specialty is… it’s the ones who love it and have to work hard at it that generally end up shining.

    Too many kids give up without trying – thinking they don’t have enough talent.

  9. January 25, 2008 / 3:43 am

    Thanks so much..so beautiful, and so many things I’d like to say, but put so much more elegantly. How much of this can I pass on to my daughter? She’s 4. Does any of it qualify to be passed on to my sons? They’re 15 months. Thank you.

  10. Duchesse
    January 25, 2008 / 1:45 pm

    I deeply appreciate this post and its wisdom.

    Agree with #4 but, as I’ve attained a certain age, prefer more discreet language.

  11. January 25, 2008 / 4:10 pm

    Lovely! You must be great mom/mentor/friend to those lucky enough to know you off of the web.

  12. January 25, 2008 / 4:20 pm

    I’m pleased to be tagged, Pseu, but a bit intimidated as well. You’ve offered such a fabulous summary of life wisdom here that I’m not sure what I’ll be able to find in my own experience to measure up. I love #4 — I’d tend to add some corollaries but it’s a message that needs to be said as clearly as you say it.

  13. January 25, 2008 / 4:40 pm

    Sing it, sister!! Amen!!

  14. January 25, 2008 / 4:52 pm

    LBR, thank you, and am SO looking forward to your visit to LA!!!

    jen – yes, those scarves are lovely and quite tempting!

    dana – I think certain bits of this might be appropriate for younger kids, some might be too abstract (and inappropriate). But “The Little Engine That Could” says some of the same things and in a format that wee ones can appreciate. 🙂

    duchesse – I generally agree with you about language, but I also believe in occasionally sprinkling a bit of salt where it will have the most impact.

    Thank you all for your lovely feedback!

  15. La Belette Rouge
    January 25, 2008 / 5:14 pm

    DP: I so agree, a little salt and vinegar add to the spice of life! And, you use salt elegantly—a French salt gris. I am not a believer in a salt-free diet.

  16. January 28, 2008 / 12:35 am

    Right on!

  17. Jana
    September 26, 2010 / 2:05 pm

    Yes…you are so right. I wish I had read this 25 years ago.

  18. Vicki
    April 8, 2018 / 3:18 pm

    10 years later, this post still resonates. I sent it to my 20 year old daughter…….

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