32 Life Lessons in 32 Years

27 Nov

I’m back! Did you all miss me? My best friend had a little too much fun time guest posting yesterday. I saw him Googling “ways to overthrow your roommate and take over her blog” last night. I’m scared.

Every year on his birthday, a friend of mine publishes a list of lessons he has learned in the last year with the number of things determined by the age he’s turning. I’ve always thought this was a great idea, and wanted to celebrate my birthday this year by doing the same.

Here is the list of 32 life lessons I’ve learned (or at least finally accepted) in my 32 years of life:

  1. You always have choices in life. Your choices may suck, but you still have them.
  2. No matter how much you think someone is “The One” they aren’t if they can’t give you the relationship you need.
  3. Life is unfair at times, and bad things will happen to good people.
  4. It’s important to know when to pull the walls down, and let someone into your life.
  5. Conversely, it’s good to know when to put them up, and kick someone out of your life.
  6. Never underestimate a good cry.
  7. Nobody will ever get in your way more than you do. Stop.
  8. Everyone should give therapy a try.
  9. Perspective is everything.
  10. The more you need closure, the more likely it is you’ll never get it from the other party.
  11. Your thoughts are the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Use them wisely.
  12. Your gut is always right. It’s your head that gets things mixed up.
  13. Despite what the news will have you believe, there are a lot more people in this world doing good than bad.
  14. People are always telling you who they are, you just have to listen.
  15. As cliché as it is, things really do work out in the end.
  16. When things fall apart, the only person who can really put them back together is you.
  17. Sometimes the only cure for a bad day is going to bed. Sleep is life’s reset button.
  18. We should spend more time appreciating our own uniqueness rather than trying to imitate someone else’s.
  19. Everything is a learning opportunity if you want it to be.
  20. Not getting what you wanted could mean getting something you didn’t know you needed.
  21. Nobody wears pride well.
  22. Every day is another opportunity to start over, and make your life what you want it to be.
  23. Negativity is contagious. If you surround yourself with negative people, you’ll always be infected.
  24. Not everyone will like you, and that’s completely fine.
  25. Always looking to the past is the easiest way to ruin your future.
  26. A friend who supports you during your lows, but is conspicuously absent during your highs, isn’t really a friend.
  27. The best life lessons are the ones that are forced upon you.
  28. Don’t expect from the world what you aren’t willing to put out into it.
  29. When you begin to forgive, you’ll always wish had done it sooner. Forgive now.
  30. Focus on actions and not words. Actions never lie.
  31. Things (and people) are not always what they seem. Always do your homework before forming an opinion.
  32. Love is everything. Self-love, family love, friendship love, romantic love, parent/child love…it is everything.

What have you learned in the last year?

Thanks to everyone who played along with my bestie yesterday, and for all the birthday wishes. I’m woefully behind on responding to comments, but I assure you I’ve read them all. My Hooked on Tonics are the best.

birthday, jen and tonic, sips of jen and tonic, cigar, santa, humor, bad santa

Actual picture from my birthday festivities

55 Responses to “32 Life Lessons in 32 Years”

  1. Angelle 01/02/2014 at 5:07 am #

    I may have had a similar year as most of these (if not all) would be on my list as well. I think I would add, Try. Just try. You never know about whether someone likes you, or if something is worth it, or if you’re good at something, unless you try. Also, do one thing a day that scares you. Not take illegal drugs or play Russian Roulette, but things like go to a movie by yourself, eat lunch by yourself, make new friends, go to that dance or kickboxing class you’ve been avoiding.

    Great post annnnnd…following 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 01/12/2014 at 9:08 pm #

      “Not take illegal drugs or play Russian Roulette.” I wish I had known that before my Ecstasy bender this weekend. (Kidding. Or am I?)

      They always say that life exists outside of your comfort zone, and I’m learning this lesson. It was kind of forced on me, but I’m glad it was otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.

  2. drewster55 12/17/2013 at 5:08 am #

    This is a pretty impressive, and comprehensive list. Many sound like variations of things I’ve discovered over another decade or so. A couple of mine include:

    Everything happens for a reason, although sometimes, it could take days, weeks or even years before we figure it out. Unfortunately, we may never find out the reasons for some events.Life can be an effective teacher. If you pray for a sign of what to do next, be sure to pray for the wisdom to be able to recognize that sign, too.

    We are essentially batteries. We have a certain amount of energy to use, but can be recharged. It’s up to us to use it to power the right things. Anger/fear/frustration/doubt draw energy from more productive uses and shorten our time between recharging. It’s up to us to find out what recharges us. Finding and keeping those around us who keep us recharged is just as important as cut those out who drain us. Having love in your life is the ultimate source of power.

    • Jen and Tonic 01/12/2014 at 9:06 pm #

      Drew, sorry for my late reply. I love this: “We are essentially batteries. We have a certain amount of energy to use, but can be recharged. It’s up to us to use it to power the right things…Having love in your life is the ultimate source of power.”

      I’m just learning this now as I was refilling myself with very negative things, or at least things with a much more fleeting happiness. Love absolutely is the ultimate source of power, especially when it’s self-love.

      • drewster55 01/24/2014 at 4:49 pm #

        Thanks for getting back to me. Glad I could offer some help with my comments. =)

  3. Psychobabble 12/03/2013 at 3:50 pm #

    And happy belated birthday!!

  4. Psychobabble 12/03/2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Number 8!!

  5. writerwendyreid 12/01/2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Great post Jen and every one of them true. What have I learned this year? That I need to be “softer”…it will make me less intimidating. And to take a moment to respond, instead of reacting immediately when people speak to me. In fact, biting seems to be frowned upon by society in general. Go figure.

  6. lovelyimplosions 11/27/2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Perspective is everything- love it. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  7. Distinguished Malcontent 11/27/2013 at 9:52 pm #

    I really like #26. Everyone thinks a true friend is there to console you after defeats, but they’d better also be there to celebrate the victories.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:48 pm #

      It definitely takes both to be a good friend. It’s nice to have a shoulder to cry on, but having someone to jump up and down with you is equally important. Jealousy has no place in friendship.

  8. Cheney 11/27/2013 at 8:28 pm #

    This is a very wise list you have here, thank you 🙂
    And a belated Happy Birthday to you!

  9. samara 11/27/2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Are you sure you’re only 32? You are really wise beyond your years. which is probably why you write such a funny and insightful blog.

    I have to say, I painfully learned several of these right here on WordPress. The most painful and perhaps valuable was #31. I’m going to have to blog about it…

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jen. I’m thankful to have found you this year. xo, samara.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:46 pm #

      I’m sure! Got the license to prove it and everything 😉

      Blogging can lead to a lot of life lessons. Not just because of the interactions we have, but also because writing forces you to put your thoughts into words. Sometimes that leads you ideas you never knew you were really thinking.

      I am thankful we found each other too! XO

  10. tdawneightyone 11/27/2013 at 5:24 pm #

    27 for me…completely. My biggest life lesson has been to THROW AWAY THE MAP! What I have been most resistant to are the things that are teaching me how to love the most. Be vulnerable every once in a while. Happy belated Bday.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:45 pm #

      The map hurts more than it helps sometimes. It’s nice to have a general idea of what we want to keep us motivated in life, but it’s our attachment to it that can be unhealthy. Letting go of it and going with the flow can lead you to places you never imagined.

      Vulnerability is also something I’ve struggled with, and for the first time ever, I’m learning to open up. Scary but rewarding.

  11. stephrogers 11/27/2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Wow, happy birthday again, and what a list! Thanks for sharing that.

  12. cdillon8769 11/27/2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Loved the list! Might do something similar for my Thanksgiving post. I already thought about doing this too!

  13. Paul 11/27/2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Hope you had a great day yesterday Jen 🙂 This year I’ve mostly learned that surrender can be just as important as fighting. When you let go of fighting and the need to correct perceived wrongs, quite often you allow life to happen as it is now and equally allow more positive things to develop.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:43 pm #

      I love that idea, and you’re right. Sometimes you need to surrender– to your emotions, to a different idea, to a new way of living, to things not working out. It is amazing how freeing it can be to say, “It’s out of my hands now. Whatever.” I’ve just barely scratched the surface of that in my life.

  14. Twindaddy 11/27/2013 at 12:36 pm #

    These are all great lessons, and you are extremely wise. I hope you had a good birthday.

  15. jaklumen 11/27/2013 at 11:57 am #

    Hahaha, Hooked on Tonics! And awesome picture. I did the Santa gig once. No, really, in a mall. Second time didn’t go so well, but… picture of Santa me with daughter. Smartie pants figured it out most of it early, so when Cimmy and I spilled the rest of the beans, it was easier. “See, that’s your father.”

    #8. As long as it’s not 29 years of it. I’ve run into so many schmucks and putzes in that line of work.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:42 pm #

      29 years is too long, agreed. That’s a problem of fit between therapist and patient. I also think some people get addicted to it or they aren’t putting the work in they need to. In either case, it’s not right for them to be there.

      A mall Santa seems like a bad gig. Of course, I get really overwhelmed by crowds of children in any setting.

  16. Vanessa-Jane Chapman 11/27/2013 at 11:49 am #

    Really great list there! My thing that I turn to, not so much a lesson, just something to keep in mind at certain times is I believe a Chinese proverb – When the road of life makes you weary of walking, remember your wings.

    By the way, I don’t know if you saw, I did post my 5 truths and 1 lie on Monday – I know it’s difficult for you to keep up with visiting other blogs this month, so I’m not trying to lure you over there, I’m just mentioning it because you had expressed an interest in seeing it when I do it!

    Happy birthday again, your roomy is cool!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:40 pm #

      Just saw your post earlier! I’ve been so behind. Thanks for the prompt.

      I love that Chinese proverb. We do have so many tools left when life gets tough. I always think, “I can’t go on” and yet, I have been able to keep going on. I think friends are like life’s wings. I don’t know what I’d do without mine.

  17. michellestodden 11/27/2013 at 11:21 am #

    Absolutely agree.
    I would have to add: “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Excellent point. I am adding that to my list for next year’s life lessons post.

  18. prettytrippy 11/27/2013 at 10:49 am #

    Absolutely love this idea!! As for your list, I agree wholeheartedly with #8 and think it’s a topic not discussed enough.


    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:37 pm #

      I agree! It seems like therapy is some dirty little secret, but it shouldn’t be. Why keep striving for your own happiness a secret?

  19. Calamity Rae 11/27/2013 at 10:17 am #

    #14. yes, yes, yes!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:37 pm #

      Right? It’s amazing how we convince ourselves someone is something else not because they’ve tricked us, but because we didn’t just look and listen to what they were doing.

  20. Madame Weebles 11/27/2013 at 10:05 am #

    YES times 32. I’m still re-learning these lessons everyday.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:36 pm #

      I think life presents us with a lot of opportunities to relearn these things. Sometimes it feels like a giant crapstorm, but it makes us stronger or smarter or something like that.

  21. Ruby Tuesday 11/27/2013 at 9:53 am #

    Love #13, lady.

  22. La La 11/27/2013 at 9:37 am #

    All great lessons that we can read over and over, yet often after to experience ourselves to get it. Glad you had a nice birthday! This year I learned that finally letting go truly brings wonderful things and that many times we postpone wonderful things by hanging onto fear. Also, fear is a dick.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:34 pm #

      You’re so right– fear has stopped me from doing so many things. Now that I’m finally letting go, I’m experiencing life in a whole new way.

  23. daniheart21 11/27/2013 at 9:35 am #

    I loved all of them. Stealing! I am gong to do this for my post today. I have 50 to do though..yikes… I loved 13, 30, 31, and 32. You Rock! Ms. Sharp. xo

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:33 pm #

      I am just catching up on my posts today so I haven’t seen if you’ve done your version yet, but please steal away!

      I love that you also agree that there are more people doing good in this world than doing bad. It’s so true, and it makes me feel a lot better about the future of humanity to know this.

  24. EuphonicCharity 11/27/2013 at 9:28 am #

    24, 25, and 27 especially.

    Happy Belated birthday ^_^

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 6:24 pm #

      Everyone not liking me was a TOUGH one for me to get over, but life is so much better now.

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving | Making My Footprint (Peace Corps Blog) - 11/28/2013

    […] least two years I would like to some of the most things in my life. Fellow Blogger Jen of Sips of Jen and Tonic did life lessons for her birthday. While these are not life lessons I am taking a post from her […]

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