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4.08.2014

So, This is What 33 Looks Like: 33 Life Rules


Here it is. 33 years on this Earth, staring you in the face. I'm still in a strange state of shock…33 is not old in my book by any means. However, I didn't think I would ever see my 20's go, so now that I'm well into my 30's I feel kinda weird.

Something about still feeling like a kid…except these days I get sleepy at 10pm and have more life planning apps than gaming apps on my phone. I guess getting older happens while you're not paying attention, but I suppose it's better than sitting around and grieving the passing of time. Screw that.

So, this post is dedicated to a few things I've learned in the past 33 years. Rules to live by that I've collected over 17,344,800 minutes and counting. Ready? Here we go:

1. Learn to Apologize

And I'm not talking about a sarcastic "I'm sorry." Pride often gets in the way of reality. If you're wrong, you're stronger for admitting that you are. If you avoid apologizing for a wrong-doing, you just look like a complete ass at the end of it all.

2. Say Thank You

Any chance you can get to show your gratitude, do it. I know we're all in our own little worlds all the time, but there are people out there who care about you and you should acknowledge that before it's too late. (Please refer to all tragic novels and films where people die unexpectedly if you need further reference as to why you should do this.)

3. Focus on Loving More than Being Loved

Everyone is so obsessed with what they can do to be more loved (or be more attractive.) And this isn't just in terms of dating. It really happens in all facets of life. Relationships, friendships, workplace stuff…the list goes on. Why not start focusing on being more loving to others? Trust me, the more you do it, the better you feel. NOTE: Don't dish out love expecting anything…then you're just doing it so you can be more loved. Love because it feels good to love. The end.

4. Wash Your Make-Up Off At Night

Seriously…and be thorough about it. Don't do that 2 seconds of scrubbing-rinse-dry-and-pass-out thing. Take care of your face.

5. And Moisturize!

It doesn't matter if your face is oily or the skin on your body feels fine. You need to moisturize so you can keep getting carded. Train yourself to apply moisturizers post-shower or post-face-washing while your skin is still slightly damp. (Don't let that water escape!) Once you start doing it regularly, it'll just become part of your every day routine. And don't forget to moisturize from the inside with plenty of water.

6. Smile

This will literally take years off your face…and make you way more approachable. As a person who suffers from extreme resting bitch face, I've been trying to get this rule to stick for years. I'm getting better at it.

7. Tell Your Parents You Love Them

It took almost 30 years for my parents and I to say it. (Blame it on the Asian thing.) Now, at the very least, all of our text messages and emails have a "love you!" in them. Baby steps.

8. Reach Out to Your Siblings

Being 3,000 miles away from my family makes keeping up with the Joneses (or the Matsuo's in this case) more difficult. Nonetheless, a random text can mean the world. I'm a fan of my brother's photo manipulated images of his face that he sends me once in a while. (Usually in the middle of a meeting.) It's a solid reminder of just how great my siblings are.

9. Take Care of an Animal

Yes, you may live in an apartment that doesn't allow pets or maybe you're allergic to some kinds, but consider walking dogs or fostering a little fur nugget. I can't even begin to explain what loving an animal is like. What you receive from them is unconditional and their reliance on you is humbling. I can only assume having a baby is something like this, but I don't have one of those yet. As of now, Mr. Merlin, my little pup, is plenty and doesn't need a college fund…and I love him to pieces.

10. Try Red Lipstick

The ultimate face waker-upper! I didn't meander into this realm of cosmetic possibilities until my late 20's and, boy, was I missing out. If you're scared, go to your nearest Sephora and put your faith in one of their make-up artists. I assure you, there is a red out there for you!

11. Sunscreen

I know I sound like your mother right now, but just do it. Your non-wrinkly future self will thank you.

12. Learn to Cook

I was never big on cooking. I tried it out when I first got married, thinking it was what wives do. Then I got resentful. THEN Charles pointed out that no one said I had to cook. So, I stopped. A few years later, I realized not only does it save a ton of money, but it's also pretty nice to know what's going into your own body and learning to appreciate it as an art form. (I think I've been watching too much Food Network.) I've since gone back to it and my bank account is thanking me.

13. Save for Retirement

I'm a lame idiot for starting a 401K recently when I should've started it the minute I was eligible. Whatever the case, I finally got that going and I have a sense of accomplishment whenever I see how much I've accumulated thus far for old lady Nami.

14. Invest in Good Shoes

This is a no brainer for me. I spend most of my sartorial cash on shoes because they really are the ending point to the sentence that is your outfit. You want every sentence to end with an exclamation point or a mysterious ellipsis. Not a question mark. Maybe a question mark and exclamation point together if you're feeling adventurous.

15. Communicate

I'm a passive-aggressive person by nature. Sometimes I truly think it's genetic…but I don't let that be an excuse. I spend a lot of energy training myself not to be. These days, if something bothers me, instead of stewing in it and slamming cabinet doors to act out my frustrations, I process it and then calmly discuss my issues. Needless to say, it's been great.

16. Remember, No One Is a Mind Reader

This is related to the point before this one. I'm 99% sure that if something about someone else bothers you, they are completely oblivious to it. So, take a deep breath and explain…and not with anger. Explain because you want things to be better.

17. Cry

I cry watching movies, reading good books, when I'm frustrated, when I'm overjoyed…there's nothing like a good waterworks show. It's one of the best releases! And once it's done and your eyelids have receded back to a normal size, you can get back to life with a little less stress. This point goes for guys too…I like guys who can cry.

18. Work Out

Find a way to be active. Get a workout DVD if you hate the gym. Get into yoga if your joints can't handle high impact activities. Swim. Join a dance class if you get bored easily. Just do something physical. Along with a good cry, it's a great way to de-stress. (Note: I just locked myself into a 13 month-long gym membership. Wish me luck.)

19. Learn to Sit Still

I'm also a restless person. Sitting in one place for more than an hour is torture. I rather clean the apartment than sit on my couch, but I've been training myself to calm the F down. I find a good book is the cure if you can't stand staring at a wall. Given the right book, I can now sit still for hours on end. My apartment might still be dusty afterwards, but my mind feels clearer.

20. Sing

I'm serious. Being an anxious person, this is the best remedy. I find singing in the car works best for me…because no one will hear you when you hit the wrong note or mumble through some lyrics you don't remember. If you're with someone, try harmonizing. Dramatic hand gestures are key.

21. It's All About Tailoring

Feel like nothing ever fits you right? Feel like some brands almost get it, but are just off by a little bit? Then, my friend, it's time you invested in finding a good tailor. Stop overbuying trending pieces and stick with timeless clothing and take that extra money you would've spent on those metallic, platform whatever's that are all the rage right now and put that money towards getting the pieces you absolutely adore tailored to fit you perfectly. You definitely won't regret it.

22. Stop with the "Hero" Thing

This goes for both relationships and the workplace. Refrain from the temptation to help the seemingly needy…but I don't mean the hungry, the poor, the unfortunate - please, help them all you want. I'm talking about those people who suck the life force out of you. They act as if they love you because they need you. What you want in your life are people who need you because they love you. As for work, it's the same game…don't work yourself to the bone, stay late, work on weekends…at the end of the day that sets up ridiculous expectations of everyone when what you really need to do is unplug so you can be more efficient the next day. Trust me, everyone will be happier in the long run.

23. Know Your Worth

I've seen too many friends work themselves to the bone and just deal with it. Just say "no" to sitting back and letting yourself fall into a hole of despair. Think about it…if the activity you tend to the majority of your waking hours is leaving you miserable and you don't feel like you're getting what you deserve, then speak up. No one will do it for you. Demand what you need because if not, you'll spend the rest of your days being taken advantage of. Sorry, but it's the truth.

24. Choose to Dance Rather Than Pose

What I'm saying here is that you should grab fun when you can. If you're heading to a party where you know the DJ's gonna be tearing it up and you're deciding between your fashionable flats or your sky-high heels that make your legs look a little longer…go with the flats. You definitely won't regret dancing the night away and having the time of your life. You will regret hobbling around, standing by as you watch everyone else having a great time, and possibly injuring your toes attempting to dance. There's some life analogy in this one somewhere.

25. Ask Yourself, "Will It Matter in 5 Years?"

This is something I've started to do pretty often…usually when I'm really stressed out about something that, at the time, seems momentous and earth-shattering. When this feeling starts bubbling inside of me, I simply ask myself this question. 9 times out of 10, the answer is "nope." And then dealing with it becomes a lot easier. Suddenly, it's not a big deal and I can worm my way out of whatever situation it is with less detriment to my overall well being.

26. Forgive

Too many people spend too much of their energies hating on other people or holding grudges. Don't even bother. If someone has done something absolutely horrible to you, try to put yourself in their shoes. If it's still horrible after that exercise, just cut them out of your life and move on. Forgive and forget. If you can get where they were coming from and still value them as a person, try to make amends. Anger isn't flattering.

27. Stop Focusing On What You Don't Have

Remember that whole "anger isn't flattering" thing I said about 2 milliseconds ago? Well, as it turns out, envy isn't either. So, just stop for a second and try to look at what you've got. Amazing eyelashes? A great sense of direction? A pup that loves you? A committed life partner? A supportive network of friends? A job you don't despise? Pretty feet? I mean, there are lots of things to be thankful for, so stop focusing on all the things you don't have and start looking at all the awesome things you do have.

28. A Firm Handshake Sets the Tone

Man, I hate a squishy, non-commital, sloppy handshake. I'm sure you've all been in that situation where you're introduced to someone and they kind of present their limp hand to you like they're a Godfather and expect you to kiss a ring. I mean, how do you even go about shaking something reminiscent of a dead fish? Sure, your outfit, your hair, your smile, the way you repeat someone's name back to them as a reassurance that you've heard them correctly…all those things make for a great first impression…but finish your introduction with a limp handshake and you've got nothin'.

29. Take Time Off

I'm starting to learn this one. I'm notorious for not taking sick days or vacations. I usually have weeks of PTO days piled up at the end of the year and are forced to take time off from work…even though I'm secretly checking my phone and responding to emails while people aren't watching. Well, this is a rule I plan to really stick to starting this year. I will take time off from work to spend time with my husband and travel. As much as we'd all like to believe that work can't possibly go on without us, the truth is…well, it can. So, you might as well camp out on a tropical beach somewhere and relax while you're work is being taken care of by your awesome co-workers.

30. Listen

There aren't enough minutes in the day for all of us to say everything we want to say and so many times people in "conversations" are merely talking over each other. Really, though, when you listen more than you speak, not only will you have better responses and insights when it comes to the conversation at hand, but you'll probably end up with one of those cool reputations as being a "man/woman of few words," who often reach an oracle-like status. In any case, sometimes (a lot of the time) you're better off hearing what people have to say before you step on your soapbox.

31. Trim the Fat

I used to have a ton of friends…I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back. It was just a fact. That's what happens when you're a fairly social person. However, as you get older, schedules start to get tricker. People move away…or move to the opposite side of town (which, in LA, is basically like moving to another state.) Work gets crazy. Maybe you end up in a committed relationship or even a marriage. Your priorities change. You don't have as much free time…so, then you start to scrutinize who your real friends are…keep those. Value them. Keep your eye on Facebook to stay up-to-speed on the rest and definitely see them whenever the chance allows.

32. Learn to Dish Out AND Take a Compliment

I love giving compliments. Really, I do. I often stop random people on the street, in cafes, in shops…just to point something out about them that I love. A lot of people get flustered and have no idea how to take it. They probably think I'm a weirdo, but a weirdo that made them feel good for the rest of the day. Still, others graciously say "thank you." I need to learn to do the latter without the overpowering want to go hide under a car or a conveniently located closet. Anyway, if you see something…say something…but this time I'm talking about the beautiful people in the world and not possible bombs.

33. Say "I Love You" Often

…because people are forgetful about your feelings for them and are often too busy wallowing in their self-consciousness to realize that someone out there loves them for who they are. So, remind them often.

Aaaaand that's it. 33 rules I've set in my life for my 33 years so far. Upward and onward, people! Remember, aging is a privilege, so enjoy it! xo!

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