People fall into two camps about birthdays – either a socially-acceptable time to feel entitled to special things because you were born a certain number of earth rotations ago, or it’s just another arbitrary day and nothing to get worked up about.

I generally side more with the latter – but this year I’m giving my birthday a little more ballyhoo. I think its a good time to reflect on things because similar to New Years, our birthdays remind us that death is coming)

My birthday wish comes in the form of a question:

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you were 26?

(or, if you are not yet 26, what’s the one thing you hope to know, be or do by the time you turn 26?)

Leave your thought in the comments below.

The sweet, sweet prize

I’ll be selecting one lucky winner to get a free Impossible T-shirt from Joel Ruyon’s Blog of Impossible Things – you can see me rocking one out here.

So wish me a happy birthday by sharing your wisdom (or aspirations) with me. Thanks!

Reader Responses

That you don’t have as much time as you think. Do all the things you want to in life as soon as you can. Before you know it you can feel like you lost years of your life with nothing to show for it. — mmstonei

The only truly limiting factor is time. Capital, people, ideas, resources – you can acquire more of those. But time? That’s the only constant factor. — kaisdavis

Failure can be just as great as success if you walk away having learned something.

Similarly, the next time you question whether you should or should not do something, consider the simple question: “What’s the worst that could happen?” Outside of life and limb, you’ll see your world of possibility open up as you take the risks that cripple others with indecision or inactivity. -> something you’re no stranger to with rejection therapy… — christopherwake

There are things more important in life than fear. Learning to accept uncertainty and failure and overcoming self consciousness are the keys to going at life with full force. That realization was important to me in college in helping me transition from an introverted wisher and hoper to an extroverted do-er. — AndyFossett

I was forced to learn this before 26, but it’s the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned about life so I’ll share it here anyway.

Stuff doesn’t make us happy. Experiences do.

Given $5k and a choice between a new computer/motorcycle/furniture, or a trip to a distant corner of the world/trip to visit family and friends, I will always now pick the latter.

You might argue that the stuff would last a lot longer than a set of experiences, and physically it is true. But the happiness you get from stuff fades fast, and then you just take it for granted. The happiness you get from experience never fades. — GilHildebrand

That I didn’t have keep anyone in my life who wasn’t good for me, even if they were FAMILY. That I had a right to happiness and peace. They didn’t have a right to me. — OtotheBeirne

I am 28 now, and in the short  time since I was 26, I have learned loads of lessons — many of them lessons other people never get the opportunity to learn. So let’s get to it then…

The one thing I wish I knew when I was 26 is that it is impossible to embarrass myself. Once I learned that, it was like having an invincibility cloak…. and that has changed my life.

You see, I was born a boy. There is nothing wrong with being a boy, but it just wasn’t for me. After years and years living in fear of dealing with my issues, I started taking baby steps in the right direction when I was 26, made the final decision when I was 27 to go for it and I cannot believe how far I have come In one short year. I have friends who don’t know I was born a boy, and I was recruited, interviewed, and hired without anyone knowing.  

It took a bit of work to get to where I am now, and in the process I learned tons of life lessons… That it is impossible to embarrass yourself is possibly the most rewarding. A girl cannot control if she is born a boy, but she can control her attitude. which actually, if I can post a second thing I wish I knew at 26 it is this: “There are lots of things you cannot control, but you can always control your attitude.” — jm949