This past weekend was my birthday. I have a lot of thoughts on turning 37, and now you’re going to hear them.

a dimly image of a birthday cake with lit candles and the text "37 Life Lessons from Turning 37"

Being 37 years old in 2022 isn’t anything special, but I like to reflect on my birthdays. See these posts on the 10 commandments of turning 31, goals for my 33rd birthday, and 34 lessons on my 34th birthday.

If you aren’t into life lessons, you can also check out this post with 37 birthday writing prompts to give you some space to reflect instead of reading my reflections.

But with all that, let’s talk about turning 37.

The Significance of Turning 37

Umm. There isn’t any. I mean, there is in like the context that I’m older. But for the most part, 37 isn’t really an age that matters.

So why am I writing this post? Because I can.

Like, this is my blog. I make the rules, no matter how silly they are. And it’s my birthday. Or, rather, it was a few days ago.

Look. I could be the sort of person who has a birthday week and makes their birthday everyone’s problem. Or I could write a self-indulgent post on a website I pay for. That’s what I’ve chosen.

Thank you in advance for letting me write this post about turning 37.

37 Life Lessons from Turning 37

In no particular order, here is my list of completely self-indulgent but also super important life lessons. Maybe some of them are universally true. Maybe you learned all these back when you were 23. Either way, here’s my list!

001: No matter how much you plan, you don’t control time.

It will still get away from you on occasion. Your capacity to work is never the same, so a task won’t always take the same amount of time. You can have a strategy for how you want to do something, but mostly you’re going with the flow.

002: People who buy expensive brands for the sake of the brand don’t have style.

They just want you to know how much they spent on that bag or shirt.

003: People who can’t sit silently with someone else aren’t talkative.

They just can’t stand to hear their own thoughts. You don’t have to entertain their chatter. If you smile and nod without engaging enough, eventually they’ll shut up.

004: The first cup of coffee of the day should be consumed in silence.

This is non-negotiable.

005: Cooking is easy when you think of it like basic math.

If you know the order of operations, you can apply it to any equation. If you know cooking basics, you can apply it to any dish or recipe. Learn techniques first and then focus on recipes and cooking for others.

006: Sleep is worth its weight in gold.

Honestly, I don’t know how you’d weigh sleep. But like, I feel pretty heavy when I’m out cold, so clearly it’s quite dense. Obviously it’s worth a lot. And the older I get, the less I can do on little sleep.

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007: If someone has time to make fun of you, their life is empty.

I’m not talking about the lighthearted teasing you get from your friends. I’m talking about some rando coming up to you to to say something about your clothes or some anonymous social media account commenting something shitty. If you don’t know them and they have the time to give you a review of how they think you’re doing, they have nothing going on in their life.

You can ignore them, or let them know that you hope they find something worthwhile to occupy their time that’s left.

008: You can’t outrun the gray hairs.

They will keep coming. Unless, like me, you skip gray and go straight to white.

By my calculations, I have about 15 years until I look like Mrs. Claus.

009: Getting your shit together is not linear.

There are setbacks and occasions where you jump ahead six steps. It’s weird. You’re human. Embrace the process and trust that you’ll eventually get there.

When you stumble, give yourself some compassion and get back up again.

010: Perfectionism just means you don’t get to have any fun.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, no matter what it is. Just take a deep breath and do the thing knowing it won’t turn out like some Instagram version of reality. Have fun and let that be enough.

And if you need them, I’ve got these affirmations for perfectionism.

011: Opportunities come from putting your head down and working.

The more you do what you do, the more opportunities come your way.

012: You never get over feeling left out sometimes.

Like with the most recent Taylor Swift release. It’s so cool to see others bonding over it and enjoying it. But I’m not a part of that world, and I’m not capable of being a hardcore fan of anything so I always feel like I’m missing something.

Maybe this would better be worded as you never get over wanting to feel what others feel.

013: We should all nap more and work less.

I know it’s not always possible, but anything we can all do to make more space for naps in the afternoon is good.

014: Our idea of old is shaped by marketing campaigns.

Sure, I can’t stay up all night and do shots the way I once could, but I’m also not old. In fact, if you think 40 is old, then it’s largely because you’ve been indoctrinated by marketing campaigns that profit off your insecurities.

015: Being content is a spiritual discipline.

Appreciating what you have and who you share it with is easy. Appreciating yourself and the body you exist in is harder. Letting yourself exist and simply enjoying that you can exist is truly some enlightened shit.

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016: Be yourself with everyone.

There’s not enough time in this life to compartmentalize your life and act differently with different sets of friends. If you find yourself doing that, then it’s probably a sign you have some friends you can’t be yourself with. You don’t have to maintain relationships that you aren’t genuinely a part of.

017: You don’t have to perform your gender to anyone’s expectations.

If you need someone to perform their gender in a specific way to make you feel comfortable, you need to see a therapist.

018: A good 15-minute conversation is worth more than all the girl’s nights in the world.

Quality conversation and meaningful hangs over noise every single time, gang.

019: The older you get, the more bitter the “rule” followers become.

I’m not talking about people who go the speed limit. I’m talking about people who did everything “right” and planned out their whole life based on when they thought they should hit a specific milestone without ever thinking about what they actually want.

020: If all your friends are your age, you’re missing out.

The wider the range of ages of your friends, the better the perspective you get.

021: Monitoring what drains your energy will change your life.

It will also make you stop hanging out with so many people and you’ll really re-evaluate some friendships. You won’t be able to stay in bad jobs for long. And you definitely won’t be able to just accept things that should be better.

022: Time will keep moving faster.

You have to actively slow it down by taking your time, tuning out, and doing what you need to be present.

023: The Fast and the Furious cinematic universe is a shining example of the use of retconning.

No other story franchise does it so well and advances the plot by adding heretofore unknown details that completely reshape the story world and the characters inside it.

024: Enjoy what you enjoy.

Most people won’t get it anyway, and it’s none of their business.

025: Saying no is hard but worth it.

I’m still learning this one. But the more I say no to things that don’t 100% light me up inside, the better I feel.

026: Creativity is an active choice.

It’s hard to lead a creative lifestyle. But the more you choose creativity, the more it becomes a habit, and the less time it takes you to find your groove in your art.

027: There are always bigger adventures.

Things will never settle down and you’re always going to have new experiences that you couldn’t possibly imagine.

028: Don’t give people more of you than they deserve.

Just because you used to be close or had a lot of great times in the past doesn’t mean you still need to spend time with someone. Putting time and effort into a relationship doesn’t mean it will be reciprocated. The sunk cost fallacy applies to people too.

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029: More alone time is always a good thing.

The more I can sit in the quiet, the better. The more time I have alone with my thoughts, the better.

030: You’re free to expand.

Move in new directions. Take up new hobbies. Explore all options. Feel what it’s like to take up space in whatever venue you choose. It’s a lot of fun.

031: Beware of anyone who says the answers lie in doing what they do.

Whether they swear you can make mad cash by buying cryptocurrency the way they did, or if they promise salvation lies in joining their specific community, they’re lying. No one has the answers and what works for others won’t work for you.

032: Fucking vote.

Seriously. If you have the right and you haven’t registered and won’t do it, then don’t fucking talk to me about politics ever.

033: Beware of people who always ask what you’re doing.

You know that you learned to do what you’re doing by simply showing up and researching and trying what works. Anyone who thinks they can ask you for all the answers and immediately be where you are without the work is not your friend. I mean, they may have started out as your friend, but now they’re using you.

034: Balance isn’t a scale, it’s a pendulum.

It swings back and forth. Sometimes you’re busy, and sometimes you’re not. Overall, there’s balance. But day-to-day? It doesn’t exist.

035: You don’t belong everywhere.

You can still succeed in those environments, but it will be harder. And for what it’s worth, even if you’re the most qualified for the job or the most capable, you still may not belong. The real world isn’t a meritocracy. But if you’re reading this far, you’re probably one of my people, and you already know that.

036: If you’re happy, share it.

Tell the people you’re with that you’re having a good time. Let that person know you love them. Thank your host for the perfect evening.

You can’t overdo it with this. I promise.

037: Warm socks are great.

Like, really warm, soft, cushiony socks. Just the best.

What Does 37 Hold?

Who’s to say? I guess we’ll find out when I write my turning 38 post next year. If you’ve already experienced a full year of 37, please don’t tell me what it’s like. No spoilers!

2 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday! I hope you truly enjoy this trip around the sun. #9 is the story of my life. I think that’s okay.

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