When I turned to 29, I was so busy comparing myself to others I thought I hadn’t achieved much. When I turned 35, I wondered why I hadn’t lived up to my potential. And when I turned 40, life got in the way of celebrating.
But I’m turning 46 this week, and instead of worrying about what I may or may not have achieved, I’m embracing everything I’ve learned.
I’m not talking about facts or skills. I’m talking about all the things I’ve learned by really living life. Those lessons that came from experience. Those lessons that have shaped who I am.
1. Screaming, whining and complaining often get you attention, sometimes get you what you want but never make anyone feel good. Smiling always makes people feel good.
3. Accidents happen when you are laughing uncontrollably with friends.
4. Never trust five year-old boys with scissors, especially when they have little sisters with pony tails.
5. Fashion isn’t everything. Attitude IS everything.
Ten Tenets By Age Ten
2. Boy germs are really quite harmless.
3. You will always regret being too afraid to slide down the fire pole.
4. You will never regret staying in at recess to finish the tissue paper corsage for your mom for Mother’s Day.
6. Your world can change every time you open a book and read.
7. You have the potential to change someone else’s world every time you pick up a pencil (or a crayon) and write a letter or a story.
8. A dog will always keep your secrets. Always.
9. When you get a present you don’t like, you have to smile and pretend it’s exactly what you wanted. This most likely means you will get more presents you don’t like.
10. Using your imagination is much more entertaining than watching television.
1. Being true to yourself can be very, very difficult. But pretending to be someone you’re not is even more difficult.
2. Boy germs may be harmless, but they are also very interesting.
3. Don’t try to grow up too fast. Acting like a kid is actually more fun than acting like an adult.
5. There is nothing like going through a hard test together to unite people who have absolutely nothing else in common.
6. There will always be people who think they know who you are. All that counts is that you know who you are.
7. Creativity is a necessity if you’re going to break the rules.
8. If you listen to what other people say about you rather than to your inner voice, you’ll never be happy.
A Collection of Collegiate Lessons
2. There is absolutely nothing more educational than living with people who are completely unlike you.
3. First impressions shouldn’t count for much at all. You can never predict the people who will support you when your world is crumbling.
5. There are times when you have to forget about achieving anything meaningful and just embrace the moment. Life is about creating memorable moments.
6. Fashion CAN be an attitude.
Eight Pieces of Wisdom from Adulthood
3. Acting like a kid is still more fun than acting like an adult. If you forget how to act like a kid, all you need to do is buy some Play-Doh.
4. If you’ve lost contact with someone who meant a lot to you, have faith. People who are really important will probably reenter your life at some point.
5. A lot of really incompetent people achieve positions of power, but that doesn’t mean others don’t recognize their ineptness.
6. Sometimes failure is the best thing that ever happens to you.
7. Never EVER stop dreaming and believing in possibilities. Just because something doesn’t happen when you want it to happen doesn’t mean it will never happen.
8. We often hate how we look in pictures. But, years later when we look back on those pictures, they will definitely make us smile.
In more innocent times, I never worried about leaving a bowl of jelly beans on my desk. Instead, I was pleased to share with others while regularly snagging a few pieces of candy myself.
I should have known better.
I should have realized that some people will always find a way to sabotage life’s small pleasures because they are so focused on meeting their own needs.
I learned the lessons of jelly beans when I was getting my master’s degree and had classes with someone from high school. I don’t remember ever talking to my fellow student in high school and was honestly surprised he’d even graduated from college.
I had preconceived beliefs about him, and he, in turn had preconceived beliefs about me. I remember the day he told me, “you are actually really funny. In high school, your friends told me you were funny, but I never believed it. I always thought you were just too smart and too serious. You really aren’t that serious at all.”
I couldn’t really fault him for never getting to know me as I’d never made the effort to know him.
Instead, I’d simply thought he was someone who spent a lot of time in the principal’s office.
Turns out, I was wrong.
He rarely spent any time in the principal’s office. Instead, he spent a lot of time with the vice principal, who was in charge of discipline.
“Mr. Tidquist and I,” he said, “were quite familiar with each other. But I really didn’t like him or the jelly beans he always kept on his desk.”
I shouldn’t have asked about the jelly beans, but I couldn’t resist.
“Mr. Tidquist always had a jar of jelly beans on his desk, and sometimes he would grab a handful and eat them while lecturing me,” he told me. “One day, I was sitting in his office alone waiting for him to come in, and I was just so angry. I kept looking at those jelly beans and thinking of Mr. Tidquist eating them. I just couldn’t help myself. I would take few, put them up my nose, put them back in the jar and then stick some more up my nose.”
“I can’t even describe how I felt when Mr. Tidquist came back in his office, sat at his desk, grabbed a handful of jelly beans and ate them.”
After hearing the story, I couldn’t immediately describe how I felt either, other than to say I was relieved that I’d never been in Mr. Tidquist’s office and therefore never been tempted to eat his jelly beans.
But lately, I feel as though my decisions, beliefs and values are like the jelly beans on Mr. Tidquist’s desk. I take pleasure in being a strong and educated woman who can think and act on her own. I like to believe that by sharing and discussing my opinions, I just might help make the world a little bit better.
Instead, when I’m not around, some people choose to express their dislike and misperceptions by judging me, discrediting me or misinterpreting my actions. But they don’t say anything to me directly.
In other words, they are sticking my jelly beans up their noses.
Since I’m human, there’s a part of me that can’t help but be bothered and offended. But there’s another part of me that realizes how their behavior has nothing at all to do with me. Which is why, instead of taking my jelly beans off my desk, I’m thinking of putting a mirror next to them.
That way, when people put my jelly beans up their noses, they are forced to see how their words and behavior only reflect back on them.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue to enjoy sharing my jelly beans with everyone who appreciates them.