The thing about 37 is that it's really close to 40. And 40, for all of our attempts to turn it into the new 20, is squarely middle-aged. I'm not going to live to be 100, and that means that I'm at or nearing the mid-point of my life.
I turned 37 today. I'm probably middle-aged, but I'm not quite ready to admit it yet. Ask me again in three years. Or, better yet, don't.
The thing about 37 is that it's really close to 40. And 40, for all of our attempts to turn it into the new 20, is squarely middle aged. I'm not going to live to be 100, and that means that I'm at or nearing the mid-point of my life.
Growing up, I was always the youngest in every situation. I started school a grade ahead, and I skipped another grade later on. I entered college at 15, and I became a mother at 19. Most of my life has centered around the paradigm of being young, but now, almost suddenly, I am not just not young ... I'm actually kind of old.
To add insult to injury, life has begun moving at breakneck speed. I swear that this school year only lasted a month or two. Can my "babies" really be almost ready for kindergarten? At this rate, I'll be too busy making school lunches and telling my kids to pick up their socks to even notice the rest of my 30s.
Still, now that I'm starting the slow descent toward Depends and early-bird specials, I have learned some things that matter. They are things that I wish I had known many years ago, but probably would have been wasted on the younger me.
Without further ado, in honor of my 37 birthdays, here are 37 things that I have learned about life:
1. Age matters. A lot. It isn't just a number, and you really do have more in common with people who grew up wearing slap bracelets, listening to Debbie Gibson, and watching Jem.
2. Alcohol is best left to college kids and twentysomethings. Hangovers aren't pretty when you're woken up by preschoolers at 6 a.m.
3. You really should've bought some wrinkle cream before you had a face full of wrinkles.
4. Going gray probably won't feel like aging gracefully, but it will give you a blank canvas if you decide to color your hair.
5. You're never too old to wear, do, or say whatever the fuck you want.
6. Other people's opinions about your life choices tell you nothing about you and everything about them.
7. It's completely OK, if not required, to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the top of your lungs at the dinner table if it happens to come on.
8. No one really cares how many people you've slept with. Unless they are assholes, and assholes aren't worth your time.
9. Windows and doors both close, and sometimes it is too late.
10. Cellulite lasts forever.
11. Your love for your children will grow and change as much as they grow and change themselves.
12. Trying to be perfect is exhausting and prevents you from ever figuring out your own imperfect self.
13. Buy cash or don't buy at all.
14. Mind your own business. The world doesn't need you to save it.
15. As a mother, everything you do is wrong anyway, so you might as well do what feels right for your family.
16. Making your bed every day is worth it just for that one moment of satisfaction at the end of the day.
17. The bathroom is a completely legitimate place to read, text your friends, and have a good cry.
18. The best cure for a bad mood is spending a few minutes outside, possibly even smelling the roses.
19. It's your job to complete yourself, and you're the only person who ever will.
20. Your body won't always be at its peak, and some dreams simply can't be postponed.
21. Live today, every day. It's the only one that's certain.
22. Relationships should nourish you, not deplete you. Not all of them need to last forever.
23. Coffee is full of antioxidants and is therefore a healthy and necessary part of each day.
24. You'll be just as happy or unhappy at a size 2 as a size 22. You will die eventually, no matter what you eat or how much you exercise, so you might as well figure out how to nourish and nurture your body and your mind.
25. Trust your gut. Always.
26. Stuff is exhausting. Give it away, buy less of it, and learn to live simply.
27. But never apologize for your little extravagances that bring you joy.
28. In fact, never apologize for who you are or the space you occupy at all.
29. Own your shit. Look at it, sit with it, and learn to accept it. Don't become consumed by a need to change or fix yourself — simply learn to love yourself as you are and have enough faith in yourself to recognize that growth happens naturally.
30. Do others the same service. Give them the space to own their shit without taking it on or trying to fix them.
31. Build boundaries, not walls.
32. Don't date, fuck, or marry every asshole who asks.
33. Someone will always be prettier, thinner, smarter, richer, or more successful than you. You lose the second you allow comparisons to define your self-worth.
34. Being the "cool" girlfriend really just means that you're allowing yourself to be a doormat.
35. It's equally possible to be happy and fulfilled single, married, with children, or child-free.
36. You are not the product of what was done to you.
37. A properly-fitting bra is worth its weight in gold.