Advice from Your 90-Year-Old Self

Posted inCreative Voices

On his birthday, Sahil Bloom shared an incredible Twitter thread of life advice he collected from 90-year-olds.

As you can tell from those numbers, it’s definitely worth clicking through to read the 40 answers he shared. Or maybe 39 of them. (With all due respect to the person who shared the advice “dance in the rain,” which has always sounded to me like a lyric from the Piña Colada Song and not necessarily worth ruining your favorite shoes and a fresh blowout.)

A few that resonated with me:

1. Now and then, break out the fancy china and drink the good wine for no reason at all.

7. Do one good deed every single day, but never tell anyone about it.

8. Time doesn’t heal anything when it comes to relationships. Don’t delay difficult conversations.

17. Never let a good friendship atrophy. Send the text, make the call, plan the trip. Good friendships must be treasured.

26. Looking presentable is a matter of self-respect.

29. If there’s something bothering you, ask yourself whether it will matter in one month. If not, let it go right now.

#29 particularly struck a chord, because it reminds me of some of my mom’s best advice, which (if I may say so), I think is most helpful for those of us a few decades under 90. Including our kids.

She reminds us:

When you’re upset, ask yourself, “will this matter in 5 years? How about 10?”

It’s always helped guide me. And now it helps guide my teens, who (in perfectly developmentally appropriate style) often conclude that one bad grade, one disagreement with a friend, one tiny stumble in a class made this “the worst day ever.”

Advice giver that she is, mom (though she’s 80, not 90) and I shared with Shahil that she loved it.

He asked me what advice she would offer, and so she plucked a gem from a beautiful speech she gave the grandkids this past week as we celebrated her 80th birthday about what she’s learned from being 80.

The stories we tell about ourselves are not the same stories others tell about us. And they’re both right.

I thought about that a long time.

I see her advice as an evoltuion of the adage that my mom and my dad have imparted to me since I was little:

There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth.

Of course this doesn’t mean that those who think the worst of you are right. It means our unique experiences necessarily shape our opinions about people; and what is truth to others, truth to us, man never be objective fact —

but it is no less real.

It’s a companion to the Anaïs Nin quote that’s gotten me through a lot of tough stuff in life, to say nothing of 15+ years of social media comment sections:

We don’t see people as they are. We see people as are we are.

Put these three thoughts together and I think you have some damn good advice to take you through life without constantly being upset about mean people, gossip mongers, and narratives you can’t control.

It takes some people 80 or 90 years to get to these realizations. Some people never get there at all.

Maybe some of us can get there a little sooner. Life is short.

My mom celebrating her 80th birthday this October. How cool is she?

Liz Gumbinner is a Brooklyn-based writer, award-winning ad agency creative director, and OG mom blogger who was called “funny some of the time” by an enthusiastic anonymous commenter. This was originally posted on her Substack “I’m Walking Here!,” where she covers culture, media, politics, and parenting.

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash.