40 Important Observations About Life From Someone Who Just Turned 40

40 things to know before 40


Turning 40 is depressing for reasons that are fairly obvious. Rarely is the passage of time an uplifting occurrence to be a part of.

Turning 40 is also a lonely experience because anyone under that age wants nothing to do with it (mostly because it forces them to confront their own mortality and the harsh realization that 40 is coming for them as well).

Additionally, anyone over 40 has little time for the recently christened 40-year-old because screw them. They’re out there complaining about turning 40 and they don’t even know how good they have it.

I recently turned 40, which is how I know what it feels like. I can confirm that, yes, it’s both depressing and lonely and also without the humor of a Judd Apatow movie (unless of course, you consider someone’s knee buckling for no reason whatsoever funny. If that’s the case, then someone turning 40 is hilarious).

As is the case with any birthday, reflecting on the past is part of the gig. Another year has passed and it’s time to take stock of your situation. Do you have gray hair yet? Are those extra pounds permanent? How old do you have to be to get in on those AARP discounts?

In the days leading up to my 40th birthday, I got reflective and started thinking about some of the things I’ve learned over the course of my 40 years of existence in the process,

I hope you can take some life lessons from me before it’s too late.

1. One of your jobs will always be your favorite. There’s no sense trying to top it.

Some jobs might come close but there will always be that one job that your other ones will be measured against. At some point, you just have to learn to remember the good old days instead of trying to outdo them.

2. Being in the streets after a championship is better than a championship parade

I never thought this was the case until I was in Philadelphia in 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series. As soon as that last out was recorded, the bars emptied and we poured into the streets of Center City. It was a joyous mob of insanity.

I went to the parade a few days later and it paled in comparison.

It was hard to see, an old woman accused me of elbowing her (for the record, I didn’t), and I think the trucks with the players passed us at some point but I can neither confirm nor deny that.

We ended up watching most of the parade at a bar, which was ten times better.

3. Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car

They don’t have to be nice ones, but they’ll certainly feel like nice ones—if not the nicest ones—when you forget yours and need a pair in a pinch.

4. Mix cereals together. Only having one kind is a waste of time

If you’re new to this, start with regular Life and Honey Nut Cheerios.

You can thank me later.

5. People will look at you differently if you have a mustache

By differently, I don’t necessarily mean positively.

I had a mustache twice in my life and both times it was a bright red handlebar ‘stache. Everyone thought I was angry and most of the time I wasn’t. But it doesn’t matter how big your smile is. If it’s hidden by a handlebar mustache, people are going to think about you a certain way.

6. Live by yourself at least once but also live with at least four people at least once

In both cases, try and get the biggest room possible.

7. Know that you’re going to lie to someone on a first date (and that lie will no doubt be about something completely stupid) but also know that if the relationship progresses, your lies might come back to haunt you

For instance, on my first date with my wife, I may have exaggerated ever-so-slightly about my camping experience.

Yes, I grew up camping. That part was true but I may have failed to mention that growing up we went camping every summer and my dad did all the work while I played Wiffle ball for two weeks.

Fast forward a year, and while on a vacation in Maine, we went camping.

It went terribly, and frankly, I’m surprised she stayed with me.

8. Find at least one kind of sushi you like and run with it

Start with the California Roll. It’s the starter pack of sushi.

You may go on to love sushi and become a fan of numerous kinds or you may never like it at all, which is fine. However, as you get older, sushi gets cooler, and if you have at least one kind you like, it’ll come in handy when you inevitably find yourself going out with a group that decides to hit up a Japanese restaurant.

Being left out is the worst. Learn to love the California Roll (or whatever strikes your fancy).

9. Snowboarders get to wear cooler clothes than skiers

Skiers should just accept that and move on. At least you can find some comfort in knowing that it’s scientifically proven to be easier to learn how to ski than it is to learn how to snowboard.

You’ll never get past the fact that snowboard boots are so much more comfortable than ski boots, but you can at least take solace knowing that you never had to deal with a whooping sore ass for two days while you learned how to snowboard.

10. You’ll have a summer where you can only afford to eat off the dollar menu at McDonald’s

Own it. There’s no shame in it.

Well, there’s a little shame in it, but that’s a later on down the road problem.

11. If you’re going to stay at an all-inclusive resort, stay at one that is close to a town so you have a place to go when you get sick of its food and lack of nightlife

This is especially true if you stay for more than a week. You will get sick of the food. It’s a guarantee.

If you can get off campus for a night and eat somewhere else or have some drinks at a spot that isn’t the pool bar you were at all day it’ll make your stay ten times more enjoyable.

12. Get into classic rock when you’re in high school

That way it sticks with you for the rest of your life. The music you fall in love with in high school has a staying power that music you discovered before or after wishes that it had.

13. There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure

If you like something, own it.

14. Don’t go anywhere without a hat and an extra pair of socks

Do you ever know what the weather is really going to be? I sure as hell don’t.

At least with a hat and extra pair of socks on standby, I’m covered in the event that it’s either windy and/or rainy, two of the most annoying kinds of weather to experience if you’re not ready for them.

15. At a certain point, you shouldn’t mess with a beer that is above 7%

If you do, be careful, especially if you typically hang with beers around that 5% range.

If you start dancing with a few 7% (or higher) beers and do so with the kind of reckless abandon usually reserved for a 5% lager you’ll be on your ass in no time. It’s a ratio thing. Figure out your specific ratio and you should be good.

Get cocky and you’ll definitely not be good.

16. There are only two acceptable places to eat a hot dog: at a BBQ or a sporting event. 

There are literally no other situations where eating a hot dog is cool. None.

If you eat one of the hot dogs at 7-Eleven, congratulations! You have two days to live. Spend that time wisely.

Editor’s note: The author of this article claims he has never had a hot dog at Costco and is truly missing out on life as a result. 

17. Twenty six years old is the cut off for not knowing how to tie a tie

Full disclosure: I don’t think I really got tying a tie down until I was closer to thirty. I’m not proud of it, but at this point, I have bigger concerns. You know, like my knee randomly buckling.

It should be noted that at 26, I realized that not knowing how to tie a tie was bush league on my part.

It should also be noted that I did little to remedy this. You should not do the same.

18. It’s okay to like country music but it’s also cool to have limits

You don’t have to like all kinds of country music. Liking outlaw country doesn’t mean you have to like bro country. There’s a lot more to country music than people think. It has layers.

You don’t have to like all the layers. It’s okay. Don’t feel peer-pressured into liking them all either. If someone’s pressuring you into liking Blake Shelton, then they’re not a true friend (or someone that knows good music).

19. Keep a case of CDs in your car even (if you don’t listen to CDs anymore)

You just never know.

Maybe your aux cord becomes so frayed it doesn’t work anymore or maybe your satellite radio farts out because you’re deep in the mountains somewhere.

You never know what life on the road can bring you, so be prepared.

If someone judges you for still having CDs in your car in this day and age, just know that at some point they’ll find themselves music-less and wishing they had some on hand.

20. Learn how to build a fire

It’s okay to sneak in a firestarter if you need too. Just wrap it up in newspaper and tuck it under one of those logs. No one will notice but they will notice your kickass, roaring fire.

21. Always make sure a good hoodie is part of your wardrobe

It needs a good hood too. If it doesn’t have a good hood it might as well be a crew neck, and if it’s a crew neck, it might as well be a rag you use to clean up your self-respect from the bathroom floor.

I can’t stress this enough. Crew necks sweatshirts are pointless.

22. There’s nothing wrong with going to a movie by yourself

I’m serious. Just go, man. If you want to see a movie, don’t wait around for a friend to go with you. Live your life and do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

This doesn’t apply if you’re in a relationship and your significant other also wants to see the movie. In that case, don’t be an idiot. Wait (or go, but just keep that shit secret).

23. Board shorts are the best.

You know what’s better than surfing?

Looking like you surf.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but surfing is, like, a lot of work. However, looking like you surf is barely any work at all. Do the math, kid.

24. If a book isn’t doing it for you 100 pages in, bail

But wait! Don’t ditch it completely. Try it again at a later date. Sometimes whether or not you’re feeling a book is all about timing (and sometimes a book is just hot garbage).

Either way, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a second look.

25. Keep episodes of a sitcom you love on your DVR. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

I know, I know. We have on-demand and Netflix and all of that other stuff. Why even bother with DVR?

Well, sometimes you need something to watch quickly and the DVR is quicker on the draw than streaming, that’s why.

I recommend episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If you can keep five or ten on your DVR and constantly re-up, you’re guaranteed to always have at least a couple great ones at the ready.

26. A good pair of boots and flip flops are hard to come by. If you get one of either, never let them go and ride them until they die.

A good pair of boots can last you five or six years if you’re lucky. A good pair of flip flops? Probably around three summers, which could be even longer if you maintain them as strictly beach flip flops.

You might have to pay more than you want at first but it’s worth it in the long run.

27. A band’s first album will be their second-best, their second album will be better once a few years pass, and their third will likely be their best

After that, all bets are off.

Sure, this isn’t always the case, but for the most part, once a band gets to their third album they’ve gotten the hang of things and know who they are and where their strengths lie.

It’s typically when they are most confident, meaning that their songwriting is strongest, but they are also comfortable enough to take some calculated risks.

The first album is a band at it’s most pure, while the second is them either struggling to recapture the magic of their debut or trying too hard to prove that the debut wasn’t a fluke.

Give a band some space. Rock with that third album.

28. Once August hits, mowing the lawn has gotten old

In May, listen to some tunes and mow. June? It’s still a solid way to spend an hour. The first half of July isn’t terrible, but by the time the end of the month hits, the mood changes. It’s not fun anymore.

As for September?

Screw it. The leaves are about to fall anyway.

29. How long it takes you to recover from either drinking too much or a hard day of work will increase a day for each year in your 30s

This is science and can’t be disputed.

Moving on!

30. It will never make sense why Starbucks makes their employees wear such cheap hats no matter how old you are

Starbucks has SO MUCH MONEY. Why do they insist on making their employees wear such garbage hats?

The funny thing about this one is that if you’ve never noticed how junk Starbucks’ hats are you definitely will now.

31. Interleague play in baseball ruined the All-Star Game

Part of the appeal of the All-Star Game was watching players play each other who never would unless their teams made it to the World Series.

But with interleague play basically happening throughout the entire baseball season now, it’s torpedoed the novelty of, say, seeing Mike Trout go up against Jacob DeGrom in the All-Star Game. It’s not nearly as cool when you saw it happen a week ago.

When interleague play started, it was a weekend. Then it was a week, then two weeks, and now, it’s all the time. This year, the Texas Rangers (an American League team) opened their season against the Chicago Cubs (a National League team.) They’re not even waiting anymore!

I’m starting to think Major League Baseball is actively trying to get fans not to care anymore and it makes me sad.

32. One of the hardest parts about having a kid is not getting ice cream every time they get ice cream

Yes, simply being a parent is hard enough, but once you get past that, it’s the little things that get you. You know, like not getting ice cream every time you take your kid to get ice cream.

This is a problem because adults are not made to eat ice cream as much as young children are. Young children burn ice cream off about an hour later. An adult? Yeah, not so much.

Resisting ice cream requires all the self-restraint a person can muster and more. I’m serious about this. It’s incredibly hard. Sometimes I think it’s harder than potty-training and damn it, that is hard. 

33. Shorter emails are the way to go

Emails are like your fantasy football team. No one wants to hear about them. They just want to acknowledge their existence and move on.

34. At a certain point, spend the money and get seats

I’m looking at you, shows at amphitheaters.

The lawn is for sure a good time but I’m not getting out much these days, so when I do, I’m paying the extra for a seat.

Again, the buckling knee thing is a very real problem.

35. Ask your dad for your mom’s Facebook password

It’s for the best. Moms on Facebook are a liability the likes of which the world has never seen. We are literally only a few years away from a mom on Facebook accidentally starting an international conflict that leads to thermonuclear war.

Moms on Facebook will most likely be the ones who start World War III.

Consider yourself warned.

36. Classic uniforms in sports are always the best

I know this because while I hate the Yankees with all of my heart, I can admit without any hesitancy that their home uniforms are among the best in all of professional sports.

Keep it simple, sports franchises. This shouldn’t be hard.

Yet for some reason, it is.

37. When doing a March Madness bracket, either pick Duke to win it all or have them lose in the second round.

You should do this because it feels like Duke will either get upset by a random school you’ve never heard of or win the whole damn thing.

There is almost no middle ground with them.

Love those home white uniforms, though.

38. Spending more than $15 on a bottle of wine is ridiculous

Spend under $10 if you’re buying for yourself. Spend no more than $12 if it’s for a first or second date at a BYOB. Maybe find something for $15 if it’s for a special occasion.

Find me a reason to spend more and I’ll listen but I doubt that I’ll ever do it.

39. Polo shirts should never be tucked in

Golfers can tuck polo shirts in, but if we’re taking fashion advice from golfers, we obviously have bigger problems.

40. Never count out the possibility that dragons are real

I might be 40 but I’m still holding out hope.