Each decade of our adulthood comes with new learning experiences. When we’re kids living with our parents, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the big stuff that can make life flow more smoothly once we’re on our own. As humans we should never limit ourselves or stop growing, but these are a few things I’ve figured out along the way, and a few nuggets some older folks have shared with me.

Once you leave the nest and begin exploring adulthood in your twenties, it’s okay to be uncomfortable for periods of time. Until you get your footing, you may have to pick between having cable and eating. You might even find that you don’t miss your television after a few weeks without depending on it for entertainment. You may have to live in a crummy apartment with crummy roommates.  This is not forever, and you’ll acclimate accordingly. Humans are adaptable and tenacious.  Once you get it together and figure out how to manage your time and money more efficiently, you’ll improve your situation and appreciate it all the more once you get there.

In your thirties, you may learn two valuable lessons: your birthday isn’t super important to anyone except you and your mom, and (to quote a country song) “hangovers hurt more than they used to.” When you’re turning thirty-one, throngs of people probably won’t show up en masse to your karaoke bar celebration like they did when you turned twenty-one. People have families and obligations now, and birthday parties don’t always factor into their busy weekends. Don’t be sad, your mom will still call you all day long to sing you songs like it’s her day. Also, hangovers aren’t the only thing that can wreak havoc on your body. When you’re in your thirties, your years of eating cupcakes for breakfast and your disdain for drinking water can start to catch up to you. That decade of your life is the perfect time to get yourself healthy and drop your bad habits. Stop smoking, eat your veggies, and get some exercise. Your body will thank you!

I’m approaching my forties, so the only comments I have about that age is something my older aunt once told me: “in your forties, small things don’t make you as angry as they used to, and you need to use a good moisturizer so your wrinkles don’t get bad.” Both of these pearls of wisdom seem legitimate to me.  Years of relationships and dealing with others help you learn how to let things roll off your back, without allowing people to walk all over you. Learn when and how to say no to things you don’t want to do, and how to avoid conflict while doing so. Since getting that advice, I’ve been trying to get an early start on that, and I’m hoping that by forty, I’ll be there. As far as the skin care goes, my aunt told me there was no need to worry about buying expensive wrinkle creams, that drug store antiaging lotions or petroleum jelly works just as well, if you start a good skin regiment before you’re looking all wrinkled-up.

Each decade will bring many lessons with it, and I look forward to absorbing as much as possible in the coming years, to try to be the best me I can be.