10 Truths I Wish I’d Known Sooner

(This is an excerpt from an article in my favorite yuppie, middle-aged woman magazine Real Simple. You guys? It’s so good. And this article? It bears repeating. By Amy Bloom)
1. Events reveal people’s characters; they don’t determine them.

 

Not everyone with divorced parents has terrible relationships. If two people are hit by a bus and crippled for life, one will become a bitter shut-in; the other, the kind of warm, outgoing person (cheerful despite everything) whom everyone loves to be with. It’s not about the bus, and a dreadful childhood is no excuse. You have the chance to be the person you wish to be, until you die.
2. Lying, by omission or commission, is a bad idea.

 

I cannot shake my dependency on the white lie, because I was brought up to be nice. And I’ve never figured out the nice way to say, “I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than come to your house for dinner.” But the meaningful lie, the kind that involves being untruthful or deceitful about important stuff to those you love, is like poison. Telling the truth hurts, but it doesn’t kill. Lying kills love.
3. Sex always give you an answer, although not necessarily the one you want.

 

It’s possible to have very good sex, a few times, with a person who shouldn’t be in your life at all. Have fun, and hide your wallet and your BlackBerry. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that a grown man, however nice, will become much, much better in bed than he was the first five times you slept with him. And if you sleep with a man who is unkind to you, there will be more of that; long after the sex is humdrum, the cruelty will be vivid.
4. Most talents are transferable.

 

If you can raise toddlers and teenagers with relative calm, you can be a CEO. If you’re a good driver, you can probably steer a cab, fly a plane, captain a boat. My years as a waitress―serving food to demanding people in a high-stress environment without losing my temper―served me equally well as a mother, a wife, and a short-order cook for my family. And if you have the teaching gene, you can teach anything. (I mean it. All you have to do is be one lesson ahead of your students. Sole meunière, Latin and Greek, algebra―you can teach it!)
5. Fashion fades; style is eternal.

 

Not only do you not have to wear torn jeans, a barely-there tank top, and a fedora, but you probably shouldn’t. The point of fashion is to indulge briefly in something fun. The point of style is to have one―whether that’s a sheath and spike heels or slouchy jeans and your husband’s T-shirt―and it should last you a lifetime. All you have to do is think you deserve to look and feel your best and spend some time figuring out how to do it. Don’t know? Find a woman whose style you admire and ask for a little advice.
6. You can’t fake love.

 

Staying in a love relationship when love is not what you feel isn’t likely to end well. If you know that what you crave is security/disposable income/child care and not the person next to you in bed, do the right thing. It’s true that one can learn to love someone over time and often through difficult circumstances. But unless the two of you agree to wait until you’re old and all the storms have passed, in the hope that love will kick in, it’s better to bail sooner rather than later.
7. Mean doesn’t go away.
Some people get better looking with age; some don’t. Some people soften; some toughen up. Mean streaks tend not to disappear. A person who demeans and belittles you and speaks of you with contempt to others is probably going to be that way for years. The first time it happens, take note. The second time, take your coat and go.
8. No one’s perfect.

 

I knew that I wasn’t perfect; I just didn’t realize that this also applied to the people I fell in love with. The object of your affection will always turn out to have huge and varied faults. The smart thing is not to look for someone flawless (which is why Elizabeth Taylor married eight times), but to look for someone whose mix of strengths and liabilities appeals to you (which is why she married Richard Burton twice).
9. Ask for help.

 

It’s possible you’ll get turned down. It’s even more likely that you’ll feel vulnerable and exposed. Do it anyway, especially if you are the helpful sort yourself. Those of us who like to offer assistance and hate to take any are depriving other people of the opportunity to be generous and kind; we are also blinding ourselves to the reality of mutual dependence. You wouldn’t wear pink hot pants and pretend they were flattering. Don’t pretend you don’t need help.
10. Keep your eye on the prize and your hand on the plow.

 

It’s easy to lose sight of what you want, especially if you haven’t gotten it. I know it’s less work to put the wish away, to pretend that the wish itself has disappeared. But it’s important to know what your prize is, because that is part of who you are. Whether it’s financial stability, two children, a collection of poetry, or a happy marriage, take Winston Churchill’s advice and never give in. Never give in. Never give in.
What truth do you wish you’d known?

33 Comments

Sonja

Oh man, I love Real Simple. I know a lot of late 20s-early 30s ladies who read it – even if they are marketed towards a bit of an older crowd.

Thanks for sharing this!

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tea for tessa

I think the one I like the most is the one about your talents being transferable. I am about to get an associates degree in general studies–basically "art" aka not a even real degree ha ha. However, I have held two jobs for over two years, been a manager, learned different tasks, picked up two sports again, and learn about plenty of other things in my own time. I have no sights a direct "CAREER" and I'm not sure what I want to do. It keeps me going to know that there are so many things I can do for a living, but the only thing holding me back is a degree. I'm okay with that. I know my other experiences have prepared me for future ones. My talents that I have make me more well rounded and make me more able in the long run in many ways in terms of learning and teaching others. The best thing about that is that everyone has different talents. Everyone can progress together, but differently.

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Hammy

This is great!
I wish I'd known not to cling to people in the hope that they'd change, rather than seeing them for what they truly are. It sounds a little harsh, but I wish I'd known when to let people go from my life.

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Jessika

About the mean people. I always think karma. You can't be mean to everyone during a lifetime without suffering a backlash sooner or later.

What I learned is not to take life for granted and that you can in fact die before you are 30. Before my actual experience death was a theoretical aspect.
I've also learnt that when you are struck with hardship you seldom lay down to die voluntarily. You pick up the pieces and carry on, making something new of the old.

Beware of bitterness. Bitterness will shatter and break you apart.

See the fun things. If you like pink stockings then wear them. LIVE, don't exist. BEtween living and existing you waste an awful lot of time.

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Brittany

Love Real Simple and love this entire post! It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I wish someone had told me a long time ago that life isn't about avoiding failure and disappointment, it is about how you handle it.

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Anna

i LOVE this. oh everything about it is so true. My favorite? #7 "The first time it happens, take note. The second time, take your coat and go." BRILLIANT.

you know what else is simply brilliant? YOU YOU YOU! : )

xo-

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The Naked Redhead

I just let my subscription to Real Simple lapse. DAMMIT.

One of the best truths I wish I'd known sooner is: "Better not to have one than to have one you wish you didn't." Meaning, being single or outside of a relationship is WAY better than being in a relationship that sucks. Being coupled with someone isn't the be-all, end-all, and you can be ok all by your lonesome. And usually you can be way better than OK.

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Michelle

Tip numero uno hit very close to home. I'm always very concerned about my relationships based on other peoples'. That's just silly.

Thanks so much, Miss Sarah!

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Rebekah

Loverly!

I wish I'd realized sooner that family and ladyfriends are SO much more important than romantic relationships. It's easy to neglect your faithful girlfriends once you've met a stud, but girl-time needs to remain a big ol' priority.

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Caylee

I love these thoughts and completely agree with them. The first point was especially insightful! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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Unicorns For Socialism

Some truths I've gleaned from my quarter-century of life:

{ 1 } Being proud of your job is not the same as enjoying your job.

{ 2 } People really, really like receiving handwritten letters.

{ 3 } Long-distance relationships than span thousands of miles and multiple time zones are kind of ridiculous.

{ 4 } Not everyone should have children — and not everyone wants to.

{ 5 } A good set of snow tires can change your entire perspective on winter.

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Kate

Love this! I always come away from your blog feeling inspired and a little more like the world makes sense. Thanks!

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Danielle

Love the list – but I have found #3 to be an untruth in my life. Having been in a long term relationship for almost eight years now, I have discovered that as we become more and more comfortable with eachother, its so much easier to communicate what we want and experiment without feeling like we'll be rejected. Its a million times better now than it was the first five times.

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rubybastille

This. I would hate to think of that item breaking up relationships because someone read it and decided it wasn't worth the effort to "learn" sex because it wasn't perfect right away. Who's that good at sex right off the bat, anyway?

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dolmadez

Ha! My mom has been giving me a gift subscription to Real Simple for 2 or 3 years now. I think it's part of her on-going crusade to domesticate me, but it's really a good magazine!

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