39 things I learned in 39 years

Today is my 39th birthday. I'm spending it on assignment in Paris. I think I'm meeting up with one of my favorite people in the world for a drink tonight, a long lost friend who happens to also be in town, right time right place. I'm not very good at celebrating birthdays (I don't like parties just for me, I feel awkward), but I do like lists. Here are 39 random things I've learned about the world and myself over the past 39 years.

1. It doesn't matter how much you want something. If you're not meant to have it, you're not gonna get it.
2. Not everyone gets everything in life. If you have a satisfying career and a nice place to live, you're doing great.
3. If at first you don't succeed, try again, then quit.
4. People who are photogenic aren't always videogenic, and vice versa.
5. Sometimes it isn't about talent or hard work. Sometimes, whoever sticks it out the longest wins.
6. Oftentimes, the best work is born out of difficult situations.
7. The only way to grow is to step outside your comfort zone.
8. If you find something you love, buy at least three.
9. Eventually all your friends will get married, have children, and/or leave New York. Make plans accordingly.
10. Young people know a lot of stuff; learn from them.
11. Freedom is the thing I value most.
12. Not everyone is a good person, there are people out there who are just bad people and, well, they're not rare.
13. Undergrad is more important than you think.
14. Grad school is less important than you think.
15. Drinking lots of water and eating a varied and nutritious diet is one of the most important things you can do for your mental well-being.
16. Who cares if you're a little chubby.
17. Life really is a one-time thing. So are most of its greatest opportunities.
18. Go to the strange place, take the weird job, order the crazy dish. You can always leave, quit, or not eat it.
19. As often as possible during the day ask yourself: "Why am I doing this?"
20. You don't have to be friends with someone forever. Some people are better as memories.
21. If you're obsessed with something, chances are there are a million other people on the internet also obsessed with the same thing.
22. Always print your favorite photographs.
23. Every accomplished, successful person you respect and admire is probably a little bit crazy.
24. Don't talk about yourself too much. It's boring. Talk about ideas. Ideas are interesting.
25. It's perfectly OK to not like clubbing. Or not get clubbing. Or never go clubbing.
26. I've never used an illegal drug and I have no regrets about that.
27. Volunteering to help someone else is the most rewarding thing, ever.
28. You don't have to dance in public if you don't want to. You might have to speak in public at some point in your life, though. No getting around that one.
29. Doctors don't know everything.
30. Parents are people, too. They did the best they could.
31. There will come a point in your 30s when a switch flips and you all of a sudden just decide that you're not going to take any more shit from anyone (or anything, including but not limited to uncomfortable shoes, low-rise jeans, and bad bosses).
32. I really don't need all the stuff I have.
33. There's a 99 percent chance you won't ever be able to change someone else's opinion. Most of the time it's not even worth trying.
34. Remember, you can always move.
35. Always do your best to stand on the right side of history.
36. Tip generously whenever you can. $1 might not be a big deal to you, but it could mean a great deal to someone else.
37. Not everything needs to be done in extremes.
38. Most of the time, if you don't tell people it's athleisure, they'll never know.
39. If you are not honest with yourself about yourself, nothing else you do will really matter.

"Observe Everything. Always think for yourself. Never let other people make important decisions for you." — from Bad News by Edward St. Aubyn