It feels like it was just yesterday when I was 25, then someone pressed the fast forward button, and snap! 20 years have gone by and I find myself still figuring out what I should really do with the remaining 30 years of my life. Yes, 30. I read somewhere that the average lifespan of men is 75 years.

Like anybody who’s blessed to reach 45, i’m quite sure we all can say that it has been a series of ups and downs with circles in between. At times there are more ups, then some confusing circles, and unfortunately, sometimes, there are more downs. The thing I’m certain of is at 45, I can clearly assess where and when I effed up, the times I could pat myself on the back, and perhaps think of what the next steps to take, consciously trying to be mature, and avoiding making “bad decisions”.

I take a deep breath and listen to that voice inside me, that same voice that told me to take that 10th shot of tequila when I was 18 years old. That same voice that told me to use my credit card for something i couldn’t actually afford, that same voice that told me to take that 10th shot of tequila 2 weeks ago (ugh!). But that voice was also the one that told me to be kind to people, to be fair, to speak the truth, to take responsibility or be accountable, to be grateful no matter what. (oh that two-faced inner voice!).

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Here are the top ten things I learned at 45:

1. You won’t reach that tenth shot of tequila. It takes much longer for your body to process alcohol. Accept it, you’re not 18. At 45, 5 shots of tequila are more than enough. Well, at least for me it is.

2. If you belong to the working class or middle class like me, you can only max out your credit cards once. Trying to pay it off the second time around poses a great challenge.

3. A lot of times, it’s not going to be fair. Be it in romantic love, career, even relationships with family and friends. There will always come a point where if one is in a “survival” mode, they will most likely choose what will at least keep them afloat or keep them safe over whats “fair”.

4. You can never be too kind. And yes, it feels great to be kind.

5. You can choose to be not cruel. And if you do choose that path of cruelty, I’m quite sure, it goes back to you, maybe not now, not soon, but it will.

6. Sometimes, speaking the truth can get you in trouble. This is quite oxymoronish. Why? Because some people cannot handle the truth.

7. We are all wired differently, and If I were to generalise things, people under 45, say the idealist 25 or even the the clock is ticking 30 don’t realize this, hence, they keep pushing what their negotiables and non-negotiables are to you and takes it against you if you don’t agree. Accept it, we are all different from each other and just say, life is interesting that way.

8. Being selfless is suddenly defined once you have your own children.  Miss Saigons “I’d give my life for you” makes sense now.

9. You can still be confused as to which path to take although in your mind and in your heart, you kinda know the right thing to do. The only difference is at 45, you know that you can’t be impulsive in your decisions, especially when other people are involved and would be directly affected by your decisions.

10. At 45, you’re neither too old, nor too young. it’s not too late to turn things around, and be glad in the fact that now, you can make “better” decisions assuming that you learned from the mistakes of the past, and at 45, there’d been a lot of mistakes to learn from. This is something to smile about, you’re not too old, yet, have enough wisdom gained.

One of the best pieces of advice i learned from my mother is “No matter what happens, be kind, even if others aren’t and stay strong” (ok, that’s more than one). Sometimes, it is difficult to muster strength and put logic into situations that seem to be ubiquitously a never ending series of bad, but i realised this only after 42 years, that when you are kind, no matter what cards your dealt with in life, you will end up victorious. So, bite your tongue, choose your battles, don’t sweat the small stuff, look at the bigger picture and just be grateful and be “HOT” while you’re at it. I must admit, I’ve never been more confident in my life despite the challenges, and I only realized that at 45. And that is cool.

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