exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

consider the alternative

by Jen at 11:20 pm on 17.12.2008 | 8 Comments
filed under: mundane mayhem

the other day i read, “having birthdays is a good thing. consider the alternative.”

wise words.  i’m off for holidays soon, so in that vein, i’m going to try to reprise last year’s birthday post a few days early – here are 36 things things i have learned in life thus far, (or been particularly reminded of this year):

1. life is too short to work at a job you hate.
2. change, while scary, almost always has its rewards.
3. time really does speed up the older you get.  that’s sad, but good to know.
4. any american child can grow up to be president.  (thank you obama!)
5. i’ll never see my natural hair colour again.
6. even the best relationship takes work.
7. your relationship with yourself takes work too.
8. yoga does a body good.
9. so does running.
10. you’re never too old to start over.  in many ways, starting over is a way of staying young.
11. don’t count your chickens before they hatch.  and always have a plan b.  (thank you, canada.)
12. if you are unhappy and do nothing about it, you are complicit in your own misery.
13. everyone should have socialised healthcare.  the freedom of not having to worry about insurance when something goes wrong is indescribable.  (thank you, nhs.)
14. strangers can be incredibly generous.  someone i’ve never met or spoken to donated the last £44 to help me meet my unicef goal.  (thank you, john m, whoever you are.)
15. cats can deprive you of more sleep than babies – after a year, babies sleep through the night.  try telling that to a cat. (thank you, zeke.)
16. traditions are wonderful.  but sometimes doing something different is pretty great too.
17. love multiplies itself.
18. it is impossible to explore the world without exploring yourself.
19. perfection doesn’t exist.  as humans we are fundamentally flawed, but we never stop trying – that’s a far more noble purpose than being perfect.
20. saying “i’m sorry” is incredibly powerful.  and liberating.
21. *always* sniff milk before pouring.
22. never take the person at the other end of the couch for granted.  (thank you, jonno.)
23. apparently, you’re never too old to get acne.  fantastic.
24. being a new citizen is a humbling experience.  i think everyone should go through it.  (thank you britain!)
25. “liberal” is not a slur.
26. there is no god.  though i really wish there was.
27. you only lose your dignity when people stop treating you with any.
28. root canals bite.
29. keep a journal, no matter how infrequently.  it’s important to have designated space for your thoughts.
30. if you let fear in, it will never let you out.
31. the best friends are those you can pick up after years, seamlessly, knowing that you were never any less important to each other for the missing.  (thank you, my friends.)
32. if you’re not wholly happy within yourself, no one else can make you so.
33. being wholly happy within yourself takes work.
34. high heels make your feet hurt, but your ego sing.
35. no man is an island.
36. having birthdays is a good thing.  consider the alternative.



  • 1

    Comment by Charlotte

    18.12.2008 @ 03:05 am

    Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great one. Does this mean I have to go away and think of 40 Things for today?

  • 2

    Pingback by 40 Things for My Birthday « Charlotte’s Web

    18.12.2008 @ 04:51 am

    [...] the actual day has arrived. Hooray! Bring on the champagne! To celebrate, and taking a leaf from Jen’s book, here are 40 Things for my [...]

  • 3

    Comment by Rochelle

    18.12.2008 @ 12:43 pm

    What a fantastic post. I stole some quotes from you!

  • 4

    Comment by Amy

    19.12.2008 @ 03:51 am

    I loved the post this year as much as last year, Jen. Always thoughtful.

  • 5

    Comment by Jen

    20.12.2008 @ 14:23 pm

    thanks guys! it’s better than bitching about how old i am )

  • 6

    Comment by Karen

    21.12.2008 @ 07:48 am

    What a wonderful, thoughtful post Jen – it’s my 34th Birthday the day after yours and I think I will have to do some thinking about my own list.

  • 7

    Comment by kara

    4.01.2009 @ 03:05 am

    I’m an American trying to get into the UK-so your post means a lot to me. I like what you said about starting over is a way of staying young. I’m 34, just had a baby and am about to embark on a new adventure with my British husband. I can’t wait! Love your hair-by the way! grin

  • 8

    Comment by nikoline

    7.01.2009 @ 07:34 am

    Happy Belated Birthday, Jen – you inventive soul! Love this list. Love your perspective. Numbers 8, 10, 17 and 18 are particularly lovely.

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