I know, I know, this kind of list is really old. But then, I’m the big three-ooooold today, so that’s my excuse. I’m too ancient to think of anything else.
Here, then, are thirty things I have learned in thirty journeys around the sun, in no particular order of importance:
one Being 30 is not anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I’m 189.67 times happier than I was when I was 15. Things have got better. From which I can conclude…
two …’This too will pass’ refers to both bad times and good times. When you’re in the middle of the crappiest you’ve ever felt, time continues to pass, and things continue to change: the outside world and your inner world. Give it time, and meanwhile just walk through it. The very best of times will also come to an end. But don’t be sad about that – use it to make sure you live completely in each good moment you are given. Take photographs with your mind (as well as your camera, if you must). Take note of the weather, the smells, the feeling of your clothes, the colour of people’s hair. And remember…
three …No matter how good or bad things are for you at the moment, there will always be someone better off than you, and always someone worse off than you. So stop comparing.
four Don’t trust people who like the smell of nail polish remover.
five Your mother was right, is right, and will continue to be right, and you are already turning into her, and that is something to be proud of.
six Whatever it is you need to do or say, you just have to learn to ignore your fear of being hurt and humiliated. And so…
seven …When you have something to apologise for, do it AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. This is never not true.
eight Life is full of what ifs. Don’t worry about them.
nine Sometimes you’ll be in a situation when someone is going to get hurt. There is no way out of that situation without you hurting someone, and you just have to put up with the fact that people tend not to like the author of their hurts. But…
ten …Not everyone will always like you. So what? You don’t like everyone.
eleven When you’re writing, remember this: if it is true for you it will be true for someone else too. So don’t worry, when writing about something you have experienced, that other people won’t recognise it. They will. If you have experienced it, so has someone else.
twelve (I) You’re not special. You’re an unthinkably small speck of dust.
twelve (II) You are an individual, entirely unique. There has never been anyone quite like you, and there never will be.
twelve (III) Your task is to keep your balance in a universe where both twelve (I) and twelve (II) are true.
thirteen By the time you are in your mid-twenties, you will have had times in your life when you have been happier than you could ever have imagined. Happier than you thought it was in fact possible for a person to be. You will also have had times where you are sick with so much misery that your mind and heart will stay blank, out of self-defence. Paging Captain Obvious here, but both those experiences make you the person you are today.
fourteen Nice things are nicer than nasty ones. (Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis)
fifteen When you’re feeling down, look for things that are beautiful or interesting around you. Make a list. Take photos.
sixteen You’ll grow up to be cynical (ahem, realistic). But learn to recognise when to turn off the cynicism.
seventeen Part of the cynicism will be that there is no such thing as an ‘instinct’ about something. Well, there is, and experience will show it. In future, trust your instincts.
eighteen Another part will be living your life by ‘Happy is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.’ << Well, he won’t be happy, he’ll just be not unhappy. Not the same thing.
nineteen Maybe you won’t always be the coolest kid. But you know what is cool? Not apologising for the stuff that makes you uncool…
twenty …So find out what’s really important to you (regardless of levels of cool), and hold on tight to those things. Find out what you love, what makes you tick, and those things will get you through the bad times.
twenty-one Take heed of other people’s wisdom.
twenty-two Make the effort to keep in touch with good friends.
twenty-three Be kinder to people than you think they deserve.
twenty-four Do stupid stuff sometimes just so you won’t do it again.
twenty-five Steal like an artist.
twenty-six The night is always more interesting than the day. (But you already knew that.)
twenty-seven Sometimes you have to walk backwards into the past before you can walk forwards into the future.
twenty-eight Hold things lightly. What’s in your head and heart is infinitely more valuable than any object you will ever own. Don’t be careless, but also… Don’t worry if your books get scuffed – it’s the words on the page that speak to you, not how pristine the page looks. Don’t worry if you lend a DVD and you don’t get it back. Don’t worry if you lose something you liked. Concentrate on what’s important.
twenty-nine Don’t ever eat an apple at the same time as drinking a cup of tea. Worst. Taste. Ever.
thirty Trust steadily in God. Hope unswervingly. Love extravagantly.