36 Lessons I’ve learned in 36 years

I recently turned 36 (October 5th – don’t worry I’ll remind you next year), and I’m totally loving being part of the Almost 40 Club. Is that weird? I love having birthdays but not JUST because of the obvious (attention! cakes! presents!), it also means I have been blessed with the opportunity to earn another year of wisdom. More than anything, it means that my expiry date hasn’t reached yet and you can keep me in the fridge longer. 🙂

We see these reflection posts everywhere we click online, and people love sharing them on social media, but that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because no matter how many shares a post gets on Facebook, everyone’s perspective is different.

I say farewell to my birthmonth (celebrate for just one day? CRAZY talk!) with a list of things I’ve learned from everyone around me starting with my beautiful mother and then on my own as I got older or from just observing others.


  1. Learn to do things for/by yourself – you never know where you will end up so you have to be able to rely on yourself.
  2. There’s disappointment for a reason. Things just won’t always go your way; that would just be boring anyway.
  3. When you doubt your ability to do something, that’s when you really should do it. You’ll surprise yourself.
  4. Get a mentor – be it a parent or someone with similar interests. You just need one person in your corner cheering you on.
  5. Be someone’s role model – when you know someone is looking to you to see what you do, you will only want to be the greatest person you know to be.
  6. Always give people the benefit of the doubt, you never know what they’re dealing with – just like they don’t know what you’re dealing with. That person who just cut you off in traffic may be a jerk, yes, or they may be rushing to the hospital.
  7. Make someone’s day; ask them how they’re doing or if they need help. Even when they say no, trust me – they appreciate it.
  8. Smile. At everyone. All the time. Some people might think you’re weird, but most do smile back and just may keep smiling then pass it on. Smiles are free – don’t be stingy.
  9. Laugh at yourself. Daily. Lighten up.
  10. Always have a Plan B. Always. Even when Plan A is running smoothly, stay one step ahead of the game.
  11. When you’re not prepared for something but you can’t get out of postponing, don’t panic. Rise above that sick feeling and envision everyone clapping then do what you think will make them clap. When you panic, you not only look stupid, but you make people uncomfortable. No one needs to know that you’re freaking out – that’s your business.
  12. It is okay to ask for help. This is something I’m admittedly still working on but as I keep getting older, I’ll keep getting better.
  13. Always, always, always remain positive. You know what puts things into perspective? Watching the news; there is some CRAZY stuff going on around the world and in your city or neighbourhood. So just look that crummy day in the face and smile.
  14. Things get worse before they get better so you might as well get all the bad stuff out of the way, because when things start looking up there’s no time to be down!
  15. Cry – it cleanses the soul. Watch that sappy movie and let it all out and then blame the movie, if you have to. But just do whatever it takes, if you need to cry – CRY.
  16. Celebrate your achievements. Brag! Shout it from the rooftop if you have to! But NEVER let someone make you feel bad for achieving something – big or small.
  17. Congratulate people when they do well – don’t be a hater. Come on, that’s just not cute. There’s room at the top, folks.
  18. If someone can’t celebrate or congratulate – say bye-bye. They’re taking up precious space in your fabulous life.
  19. Never burn bridges unnecessarily with people who have helped or supported you. So you’ve gotten to where you want to be, so you’re just going to act like you’re better? Right. Okay.
  20. When someone asks for your honest opinion, respect that word and give it to them.
  21. Reach out to an old friend. Send that text or email (or make a phone call). They may be thinking about you too. There’s nothing like the connection you have with someone with whom you share some of your favourite memories!
  22. If you love someone – just tell them. If you can’t say “I love you”, then say “you’re awesome”. And take them by surprise and tell them randomly (when they least expect it). Just let awesome people know that they’re awesome.
  23. Say thank you when you should. And you always know when you should *side eye*. This world is too full of ingrates – break the cycle.
  24. Sometimes it’s best to just keep your mouth shut… And there are times when it is necessary to put people in their place. It’s up to you to know the appropriateness.
  25. Donate – either your time or money – when you can. There is always a need for either and as the saying goes: sharing is caring.
  26. Save money when you can – even if it’s $5 a pay. That Big Trip won’t pay for itself.
  27. You’re never too old to do something wild/crazy/fun or to start that new career.
  28. Set goals by writing them down – hold yourself accountable.
  29. If you didn’t do something that you REALLY wanted to, don’t complain about the missed opportunity because it’s your fault. Plain and simple.
  30. Be open-minded, life is more interesting that way.
  31. It’s okay to make new friends – especially if they celebrate and congratulate. (Sorry Drake!)
  32. When in doubt – dance. I like to work a good shimmy into any situation.
  33. Do one crazy thing a year, then take lots of pictures and tell everyone about it.
  34. At the end of the day, find a reason to smile. Even when you’ve had a bad day, sit down and reflect on your life. You’ll end up smiling.
  35. If you want something bad enough you’ll work until you get it; there is absolutely nothing cliché in that. And if you think it’s cliché, then maybe you don’t want it bad enough.
  36. Karma exists folks! People are always punished or rewarded based on their actions. It may take days or month, sometimes even years and you may not always see it (which kinda sucks!), but people always get what’s coming to them.


10 thoughts on “36 Lessons I’ve learned in 36 years

  1. What a wonderful post, this is great advice that I will certainly try to keep in mind when Im living my own life. Leave it to you to work a shimmy in to life lessons.

  2. Nothing like sharing our life’s lesson CJ…thank you! My shimmy comes with a burst of song usually at the top of my voice. Wakes me up and sometimes those around me…always fun 🙂

  3. Wonderful post, and excellent reminders that life is worth celebrating. I’m so grateful for the series of events that brought me into contact with you – and happy to be part of your world, Christen. You are awesome.

    1. Seph – that was very sweet of you to say! And your constant positivity is always a reminder to see the good in people. Needless to say, I am also glad we met. 🙂

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