10 Lessons I’ve Learned During My 40 Years


  1. Only invite an exclusive group into your home/life. Not everyone needs to know what you have. We work so hard that unless we built a substantial relationship years ago, it’s difficult to find friends of substance now. And that’s okay–It’s about quality instead of quantity. Not every person who treats you kind is a friend. As such, not everyone should be invited into your home. Didn’t we learn anything from the old horror films? The devil and other bad energies will not enter your home, unless you invite them. Make your circle of friends small and keep your home as your safe space.
  2. The only thing, sometimes, you have control over is the way you react to people. As we get older, and probably more medicated, we have to be strategic on how we react to each other. There’s no need to get in exasperating arguments to support your already-established beliefs and morals. There’s no reason to use excess brain power or storage on individuals. I’ve learned what works best for me is to state the problem, cause, and a solution to the individual and simply walk away. In turn, there’s less grief for all parties.
  3. Speaking with authority doesn’t mean you are aggressive or disrespectful– It means you will not be taken advantage of and know what you stand for. Importantly, if you have nothing to stand for, you will always fall for everything by giving the perception you are accepting everything. Differences are okay in our lives–that’s how we grow and learn from one another. However, speaking with confidence and authority with simple phrases such as, “This is what I stand for. . .” or “This is not acceptable in my life because. . . ” gives firm responses and gives you a footing that should never be debated.
  4. Trust no one until they are proven to be trustworthy. It’s interesting how people toss around the word “friend” so readily that it has lost its value. Just recently I had to eliminate 3/4 of the people I was associating with. Just like a new employee at a job, someone with the title of ‘friend’ that you would eventually trust with your assets must prove themselves to deserve that title, or they just aren’t qualified for the position. Regarding trust, never give information out to individuals that don’t have that true title. Real friends do not use your private information or your weak moments to exploit you. Think of it like this–would you trust just any random person to house-sit for you. How would you know they aren’t snooping or stealing? I don’t understand individuals who have bachelor or bachelorette parties with 40+ people. In my eyes, and in my world, the title of friend and those you trust is a small circle of people.
  5. Pets are easier than children. I like to vacation. The downfall is that I have two dogs. Every time I go on vacation for a week, I dish out about $500 for boarding. Many of my pet-less friends shake their heads that I dish out so much money for my pets, but still yet it’s cheaper and easier than having and raising children. After all, just like pets children are not welcome in all functions either. And, just like pets, not everyone likes or wants to be around children. I tend to joke with my friends and say that I’m “allergic” to children. When I invite my friends over, I feel that I’m inviting them over for full adult one-on-one attention not for a constant child disturbance. Though I tend to keep my dogs out and about when I have guests, if they get unruly, it’s so much easier (and acceptable) to cage them in another room to ensure the adults can have solid time together.
  6. Patience is important. Everything happens when it happens. We can’t rush things. With the constant use of social media, we see how ‘great’ things are going for people. But what you don’t see are the struggles behind the scenes. After all, most people don’t want you to see their struggles, so we tend to post only the good things online. I, for one, do. I don’t want to see a fitness guru with a 6 pack without seeing the transition of them struggling. I don’t want to see a home renovation project unless I see the Before photos. We have to understand that things happen in time and with patience and perseverance. If others claim their success happened over night, they are probably exaggerating the truth and don’t want to share their story. That’s fine. Have patience. Create your own story as you learn patience and watch things unfold.
  7. Being kind does not mean I’m naive. Understanding this will allow all of us to keep our guard up. Remember there are definitely some genuinely kind people out there who want to do everything to help others (ie, donate all old clothes to a family in need, offer the same family money for the children’s lunches, possibly paying for one of their cell phones for a month, etc). But then there are times when the ‘needy’ will take advantage of all the generosity. As the ‘thank you’s’ begin to fade, and the money and offerings are still expected, a strong disdain grows at times. In short, be kind to each other. But don’t be naive of others long-term bad intentions. Give what you can without suffering mentally or financially. Help someone who is also willing to help themselves if, and when, they could.
  8. Reciprocate with those who dedicate themselves to you and your beliefs. Your circle of friends create your personalized church. They nourish you in so many different ways. If someone feeds your soul, feed theirs. If there is no reciprocity, then you must reconsider the type of relationship you two have.
  9. Struggles are recycled, not unique. Sometimes we feel alone and fall into a deep depression. This is human nature. This is also okay and normal. As we fall deep into our slump we tend to feel as if we are alone and no one has experienced what we have. I’ve realized that once I have a day or so of sitting in my slump and separating myself from others, I can analyze which of my friends have probably been through the same problems. It is that moment I realize my problems are not unique, I am not as isolated as I felt, and there are others who can help with whatever struggle I’m trying to hurdle.
  10. Don’t allow people to question or destroy your belief system. My experiences are my experiences. Understanding that 40 years of experiences are what molded my views on race, class, gender and religion makes me stronger. You have a firm foundation. However, though you don’t need to justify to others any of your feelings and decisions, you should always justify them to yourself and understand the roots of your beliefs.

About Stephen Earley Jordan II

Author of "Beyond Bougie", "Cold, Black, and Hungry" and many other books. www.StephenEarleyJordan.com
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s