Today is my birthday. I share this day with Zack Morris, Ron Howard, and the anniversary of Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, & Tituba being arrested for witchcraft in Salem, Massachussets. I’m currently listening to The Eagles’ Witchy Woman, watching Apollo 13, and reading about how Zack Morris is trash in celebration.
I am now 35 years old. I reminded myself this morning that no matter how old I feel now that I am checking a new demographic box (35-44 representin’), my parents must feel that much older knowing they have a 35-year-old child! Along with the start of the calendar year, birthdays seem to be the time we look back and take stock of our lives thus far. It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae and feel like we’re not measuring up to the expectations of our younger selves at these milestone birthdays. I may not be a powerful political player but I’ve done some pretty amazing things. Therefore, I decided to pass along 35 pearls of wisdom to younger Karen in hopes that she isn’t so hard on herself in her teens and twenties.
35 Things for Younger Karen
- Don’t eat unpasteurized cheese. Your body can’t handle it. No matter how good it tastes – it is not worth it.
- When walking down a random hall in your freshman dorm, say yes when a really cute boy asks if you want a double shot of Peach Schnapps. You’ll marry him a little over three years later.
- It’s okay to cry.
- Get that eyebrow ring you want in college. If you don’t, you will always wish you did.
- Eat at your wedding. If not, you’ll end up searching for an open McDonalds at 1am – only to be told that they’re out of hamburgers.
- Whenever you land in a new city – find a bar and have a local beer.
- It will take some time, but you will eventually see the worth of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. Embrace these moments. You will learn the most from them.
- Continue to smile while listening to Desperately Wanting on repeat because when you’re 32, you’ll catch a guitar pick at a Better Than Ezra concert in downtown Kansas City.
- Celebrate every reunion with Clay – no matter how small.
- Find a group of friends who get you. They will become your tribe and they’re necessary for survival.
- If someone doesn’t get you, it’s not your problem. It’s theirs.
- You’ll eventually learn that you can eat and drink everything in moderation and still have a bangin’ curvy body. Those extra 10-15 pounds aren’t worth the experience of truly enjoying food and the love used to create it. Don’t diet!
- Never turn down the opportunity to hike outside. It’s your happy place – no matter the weather.
- Write more. You’re good at it – no matter what your inner-critic says.
- Remember that your body is amazing. You will use it to hike mountains, kayak in multiple bodies of water, run races, and birth two children.
- You’ll feel so incredibly lost during the first few weeks of motherhood. Ask for help.
- Embrace your desire to be spontaneous. It’ll be the source of some of your greatest stories.
- You’ll never find better french toast than at Tin Pan Galley in Sackets Harbor. Eat as much of it as you can (see #10).
- You look best as a blonde. Every time you dye your hair darker, you eventually wish you didn’t. Don’t.
- Misery loves company. Don’t bother yourself with miserable people – they’ll just drag you down.
- Respond to that email.
- As soon as you can afford to stop buying $5 bottles of wine – do so!
- You’ll quickly learn that you aren’t motivated by money. If you don’t feel like you’re changing the world, you won’t want that job – no matter how much it pays.
- You’ll be happier when your children begin to walk. It’s okay to just survive and not thrive during the infant stage.
- Spend money on that trip. It’s worth it.
- Don’t ever match someone shot-for-shot of tequila. It won’t end well for you.
- The Army will be the source of some of your most saddest and most joyful moments.
- There is great beauty in failure. Don’t fear it.
- Don’t bother hanging out with moms who only talk about their children – they’re incredibly boring and life is too short to hear someone go on and on about potty-training struggles.
- Invest it good jeans that make your butt look amazing.
- Don’t wait so long to try raw oysters. They’re delicious.
- Be sure to carve out alone time away from your children. You need it to be the best you.
- You won’t be one of those people who look back at high school and college and view those years as the best your life. Thank goodness.
- Celebrate other peoples’ successes.
- Always remember that you’re awesome and there is no one alive that is more you than you.
So here’s to an amazing, wonderful, fearful, intimidating, and magnificent 35th year of living. I’m quite excited and not at all ashamed. When someone asks me my age, I won’t make a self-deprecating joke about celebrating the anniversary of my 29th birthday. I will proudly say that I am 35 years old and I am happy to be alive.