Everybody shouldn’t like you:10 things I’ve learned in 40 years

Lat week I was reading humor columnist and author Dave Barry’s classic list of 25 things he’s learned in 50 years. His list included things like: you should not confuse your career with your life, a person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person, and you will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight-savings time.

Barry’s list inspired me to write my own…

I feel like I’ve truly learned something when the lesson stops repeating itself. I stop dating that guy. I don’t like the way I feel around certain people so I change the nature of those relationships and never experience those bad feelings again. I stop apologizing for doing/being who I am or am not. You get the point.

I encourage you to create your own list – you’ll be surprised to discover all the lessons you’ve learned, and the ones you haven’t. That list is next – the harder one, the one requiring complete honesty with myself when I admit that there are some lessons in life I still haven’t grasped, even in 40 years, and ask myself if I ever will.

But today, here’s to what I have learned…

  1. If you’re doing it right – living your life, being true to your beliefs, everybody shouldn’t like you. Some people won’t like you. That’s a good thing.
  2. Sometimes if you really don’t feel like doing something, don’t. Some call it gut, others intuition, but whatever it is, it’s dead on.
  3. Even if you’ve fought to hold onto something – an idea, a person, a relationship – sometimes it’s just time to let it go.
  4. The one thing you want the most in life will be the thing you have to work the hardest to get/feel/achieve – and you’ll have to work at it for the rest of your life.
  5. It is ok to forgive and remember. If you forget, what’s to stop it from happening again?
  6. Your yesses and your nos, verbal or otherwise, teach people how to treat you.
  7. When it comes to relationships don’t ignore the subtle signs you see at the beginning – that is who he/she is.
  8. There are worse things in life than being corny/geeky/nerdy – ask Bill Gates.
  9. The pressure to “fit in” never really goes away, what changes is your desire to.
  10. Money really can’t buy happiness, but not having it can significantly contribute to sadness.

What have you learned in 40 years? Share yours in the comment section or on our Facebook fan page.



Backspace. Delete. Do-over…9 months later

Editor’s Note: I first wrote  the following post in September 2009. I’d only been blogging for a little while and The Women at Forty Project was brand new. One of the things I was struggling with was regret. I regretted some of the choices I’d made that lead me to where I was in my life in September 2009 and I’d regretted many of my mistakes. Fast-forward to 2011 and I’m still (shockingly to no one at all) making mistakes. So when a WAF community member posted this as her status updated last week, “There is such joy in turning a mistake into something beautiful” I looked up this old blog post and used it to remind myself why mistakes aren’t always such a bad thing…

I remember when correcting mistakes wasn’t as easy as tapping a couple of keys on a keyboard.  Today, hitting the backspace or delete key can save the day by pulling you over before you shoot off that irate email you’ll regret later, create a seemingly flawless page of text and undo that thing you just did that’s the exact opposite of what you meant to do.

If you’re a member of the Women at Forty club, then you remember correcting tape (vaguely?), white out and trashcans full of crumpled paper. You remember a time when you’d have to think things over a hundred times before committing them to paper once. As a rule, we spent more time developing and preparing everything prior to putting it out there because it was hard to correct our mistakes and harder still to live with them once they’d been made.

I think the same holds true in other areas of our lives as well. Relationships, career choices, family. As we get older, we tend to make choices and decisions at a different pace. Today, women in their twenties start dating and break up in a matter of weeks, all by text message, tweets or status updates.  They’re making major decisions and mistakes quicker than ever.

When it comes to mistakes, I’ve made some big ones (one was 6’2 ”.) And none of them, sadly, came with a backspace button or delete key. I had to live through the consequences of making every one of my bad decisions – big and small. And while it’s really Zen to say we wouldn’t change a thing about our past, given the opportunity I would gladly delete and backspace some of mine with a vengeance.  6’2″ for one, burning my eyebrows off in a tragic but comical barbeque grill lighting fiasco for another, and remind me to tell you about “The Catfish” someday. In fact, I’d much rather have learned many of my life lessons the easy way, less intent on trying to thwart the “I told you so’s” and more interested in paying attention to the voices of the women who’d been there, done that, and saw the likely outcome from a mile away.

I’m grateful for backspace and delete keys. God knows I use them both every day.  But while even I would call a do-over on some of my stupider younger woman moves, I think that just as in writing, overusing the backspace key can stifle us, causing us to constantly edit and over-analyze ourselves – preventing us from living full, authentic lives, mistakes and all.

Would you call a do-over if you could?