28 Things I Know at 49 That I Didn’t In My 20’s

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lessons that life has taught me so far. I am in the last year of my 40’s and reflecting on all of my successes, failures, and regrets has helped me to see that I have a lot to offer those who come behind me. There are things I know, and there are things I am still learning at this stage of my life.

I struggled as a teen and through my 20’s to figure out who I was as an individual. I had a strong independent streak, but my need for approval kept me on a path that wasn’t geared in figuring out who I was deep down.

It’s taken a long time and lots of personal work, but I finally feel as though I’ve racked up enough years and experience to share a bit of wisdom. So take this list and see what applies to you and how you can use it to become stronger and more secure in yourself sooner rather than later.


28 Things I Know At 49 That I Didn't Know In My 20's

1.  Surround yourself with people who want to be with you or value you.

2.  Don’t always wait for someone to do something nice for you. Spoil yourself once in a while.

3.  Buy the good coffee. Don’t wait for a special occasion to open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving.

4.  Be genuine and don’t compare yourself to others. If you think someone else’s life is a cakewalk, remember that you are only seeing what they allow you to see. Don’t worry about what other people do.

5.   It’s not all about you.

6.   Dimming your own light to make others feel more comfortable doesn’t serve you. This applies to school and your job. Speak up.

7.  You’re only as bad-ass as you allow yourself to be. Don’t wait for permission to show your strength.

8.  Feelings are temporary and always changing. Wait 24 hours before you make the call or hit “send.” Remember there is a ‘season’ to face all problems.

9.  Fast friendships are usually fleeting. Lifelong friendships take years to build.

10. Another person will never complete you.  As Whoopi Goldberg says, “If someone says ‘you complete me’, run.”

11. You get what you give. So give as much as you can in either time or money. Time is better.

12.  People do things for their reasons, not yours. Don’t take it personally.

13.  Use the good china. It’s okay if it breaks. It wasn’t meant to just be pretty.

14.  Never trust anyone who is unkind to animals, or rude to the waiter.

15.  Nobody who really loves you  does because of the size of your waistline.

16.  Worry is valuable only to the point it spurs action. Beyond that, it is wasted energy.

17.  Most of the time, fear is a sign post for growth.

18.  You will only regret what you don’t try to do, not what you do.

28 things that I know at 49 that I didn't in my 20's

19.  Don’t just take their word for it. Question authority, do your research and know your rights.

20.  Don’t believe everything you think. Again, do your research.

21.  Get your news from a variety of sources, conservative and liberal.

22.  Small minds focus on problems. Big thinkers focus on solutions.

23.   Extraordinary takes balls. Be extraordinary.

24.  Forging your own path is revolutionary. Most people are on the path of least resistance. Do the work.  It may take time, but it will be worth it.

25.  Start investing as soon as you turn 18. It will make it easier to retire later.

26.  When you know better, do better.

27.  Take the shopping cart back or place in cart corral. Don’t be a dick.

28.  Love trumps hate. Always.

Finding out who you are takes practice and time of self-reflection. You will not grow as a human being by merely skating along the surface of life. We have but one life, make it a good one. People will remember you for your heart and soul, not by the designer shoes you wore or the car you used to drive.

Living authentically is up to you. Don’t waste the opportunity to start now.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned so far that are most meaningful to you? Tell me which of these speak to you the most or that you think you need to work on.  Please share them in the comments below.

Reinventing Julie - a blog for the middle age empty nesters



About Julie Mason

Julie is a nearly fifty year old almost empty nester. Life is interesting, ever changing, fun, infuriating, and Julie wishes to share it with you all. She hopes to learn along the way as well and write about anything and everything that strikes her fancy.

67 thoughts on “28 Things I Know at 49 That I Didn’t In My 20’s

  1. Life is a wonderful journey of growth and self discovery, isn’t it? At thirty, I feel as though I am just now emerging into who I was destined to become, and while many feel disheartened about aging, I look forward to the lessons I will learn. I loved all of these but especially appreciated #7.

  2. My two favorites: “People do things for their reasons…don’t take it personally”, and “buy the good coffee”. Buying the good coffee is just delish and remembering not to take things so personally is something I need to work on.

  3. I love uplifting and inspiring posts just like this one.
    I’m only 19 and I’m still trying to discover who I am. This post is like a guide to me.
    Everything is well written. I like #1 and #4

    Thank you for sharing this great article.

  4. Pinned this to my “inspiration” board. As someone officially in my “late” 20s now, this is really uplifting for me. Some days I’m still having trouble “adulting” and I just feel like I’m not grown up enough to deal with the things life is asking of me. Seeing this advice gives me so much hope in my own capability.

  5. You def learned a lot so far in life!!! I’m only in my 30’s and can say I have learned many of these things as well

  6. Readers, in my humble offering, I should categorize the above not as advice, rather truths. Garnered from real,stumbling, living, which in my book, is the hallmark of authenticity! That stuff, seemingly, at the time, less than desired events, missed, taken or overlooked opportunities, lost love or super yuck,, great “failures.” Julie has nailed it!!!
    Many may not have had the fortune or misfortune, upon encounter, of these type & variety of bumps. Regardless, however you choose to cast them, let’s just say, ” great guns, this stinks!” Julie’s words, taken superficially or as profound parables, matters not, but In nowise are they anything but truths.
    I would only join in her songs by saying, I cannot think of one precious thing I either possess currently, have mournfully lost, irrevocably screwed up, or am/was in trepidation of losing, that has come or gone away from me to my detriment. And having a most checkered past, that’s saying something. And it has only been of quite recent completing. Life & its events, trinkets & loves must, dammit, be worn as a loose garment, treasured in their glory days, not worried over muchly when gone beyond what’s of necessity because the Almighty, of whatever understanding uses this crap to hone us for the next thing on His “to do” list!
    Keep at it girl, this rocks & inspires!

  7. I’ve learned that there are very, very few decisions that actually have to be made RIGHT NOW. Most can wait until everyone has taken a deep breath.

  8. I find myself thinking lots about life too lately, as I just turned a milestone too. How fast time flies. I definitely should have invested when I was 18, I should have spoken up more, should have had the balls to be extraordinary. Coulda woulda shoulda. But it’s not too late, yes?? And this I’ve always lived by: never trust anyone who is unkind to animals, or rude to the waiter.

  9. This is such a beautiful list, Julie! I’m in my early twenties. I definitely feel like I’m going through the process of learning all of these first hand. I especially love #14!

  10. Whenever we have dinner parties we use our china. It goes in the dishwasher too, but when else are you going to use it.

  11. This is so great, thank you for sharing. I either relate to these, or they are inspiring! My favorite – if someone really loves you, it’s not because of the size of your waistline.

  12. That was a WONDERFUL read with my morning tea!! I just entered my 30s this year (which was a scary and sad experience that I am starting to come to terms with!) LOL! I especially loved the shopping cart (#27) and nearly spit out my tea! Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. All of your tips put a smile on my face… they are so true. One thing I’ll add is — Be Present and Stay Grateful.

  14. Something I’ve learned so far that I truly value is to ask for help sometimes. Independence is huge, but if I’m really struggling with a serious issue, I’ve learned that it is ok to ask for some help.

    This was such a lovely and inspiring post! The one that stood out to me the most was that worry is wasted energy unless it spurs action. So true!

    1. So true. Worry can call us to action sometimes. If it is paralyzing you, then you need to find a way to rid yourself of it.

  15. These are great! I learned at a young age that life is short or can be short so to not take it for granted and live each day to the fullest with no regrets…

  16. I am about to turn 66 and honestly what I wish I knew back when that I do now is—don’t listen to others about what you should or shouldn’t be or do–follow your heart and inclinations!

  17. Love, love, love your writing Julie! Keep it up! I can add a few to your list: A good night sleep is better than any night out, that last drink is rarely worth it, don’t drive slow in the fast lane (both literally and metaphorically). I can honestly say it is better to be closer to fifty than closer to twenty!

  18. I’m almost 30 but this is all very good advice! And I’m lucky to have received the advice about investing from my parents. I’ve had a retirement account since I was 14! That’s one thing I’ve been telling everyone my age. Get a retirement account now! This is a great post!

  19. I love this. I just did an article called “The Very Best Part About Turning 40”. You are spot on. I certainly wouldn’t go back do my 20’s over, but there are a lot of things I wish I knew then that I know now. Keep up the great work.

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