5. There's only one thing you need for events requiring formal attire—and it's not Xanax.This one's for the single ladies: If I'm wearing heels and lipstick, and I have to sit at a large circular table with a complicated array of forks and a bunch of grinning strangers, I'm bringing a date. I don't care if it's a blind date, or my best friend, or my fifth-cousin-twice-removed, but someone's coming with me, because I am not doing this bullshit alone. The buddy system we used as children should apply for life.
6. Opinions that you didn't ask for in the first place aren't worth the meltdown.Your family is unavoidable. You cannot escape them or trade them in for another family. You also can't change them...but you can change your response to them. Got a bossy family member who always knows exactly what you're doing wrong with your life? Like that cousin who knows you look better with bangs, or that aunt who thinks leasing is way better than owning? Or a sister who really thinks you should have stayed in law school? Not everything has to turn into a battle. (And not every email has to be returned, either.) You know how to walk away silently, with your head held high...even if sometimes you're headed straight to a (very small) glass of wine.
7. Turning 40 is a relief.If you think it's going to be scary, it's not. It's an excellent time to reflect on what you've accomplished: the marathon you ran, the once seemingly impossible career goals you've met (almost) and the family you've built, whether with a partner or a group of friends. You've also finally figured out that drinking gin makes you mean and taking naps makes you nice, and that your morning commute is so much more relaxing with audio books. You are still young and fit and healthy. Your mind is sharp, and you've still got a long way to go.
8. Except that we are all going to die someday.I knew it all along, but I didn't really know it 'til I turned 40. We are definitely on the downward slope toward death. Mortality issues kind of suck, but they force you to confront the way you want to live the rest of your life.
9. This is why waiting in line for brunch is dumb.A menu with a pretty font on it is meaningless in life if you have to wait an hour to see it. Let's go to the store and buy some eggs; and then, you can come on over to my house and I'll cook them for you instead. Tell me some jokes. I'll make you some tea. We can do the crossword puzzle together. There's no wait at my house. I promise we'll have fun.
Jami Attenberg is the author of The Middlesteins (now out in paperback) and The Melting Season.
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