Ryan Freitas

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  • August 17, 2010 1:52 pm

    35 Lessons in 35 Years

    My father always told me that the day we stop learning is the day we die. I wrote this as a sort of preparation for my 35th birthday last week. Some of these are poignant, others are simply trite; I attribute the latter to my growing sense of sentimentality as I age. That, and I need an editor.

    Allow me to present some of the hard-learned lessons of my time thus far:

    The Opposite Sex

    - “Unrequited” does not mean the same thing as “platonic”.

    - They call them crushes for a reason.

    - She wants you to listen, not to offer a solution to what she’s venting about.


    - There are few things better than a quiet moment with your wife.

    - Do your best to get past your regrets. Your flaws are not as close to the surface as you think.

    - Schadenfreude is unseemly, but not when your friends are a bunch of assholes.

    - Spend time with as many well-behaved dogs as you can.

    Life Skills

    - Vulgarity for shock is banal. If you want to curse, do it creatively, and in a torrent. 

    - Atheist or evangelical, the more you talk about how others should live, the less anyone will want to talk to you.

    - As you age, your dependencies deepen and your opportunities narrow. Try not to think of these in a negative light.

    - Get to know someone who has survived addiction. It will change your perspective on pretty much everything.


    - If you are able, take joy in cooking for others. If you aren’t, set the table.

    - Never mind the culinary education. Two weeks as a dishwasher in any decent restaurant will tell you everything you need to know about the industry, and whether you belong there or not.

    - Even the worst apartment kitchen can be improved by buying some decent knives. Buy them individually as you learn to use them.

    - Food is neither a fashion nor a way of life. Avoid eating meals with anyone who describes themselves as a “foodie”.


    - Pick a drink. Stick with it.

    - Never be the guy at a dive bar asking for something exotic that they ain’t got.

    - Don’t wait til you’re already ordering to ask your girlfriend what she wants to drink.

    - Get on the wagon every once in a while. If only to appreciate that first sip a little bit more than the last.


    - It’s hard to overestimate the affection you will hold for those who’ve been through tumultuous circumstance with you.

    - Guys have difficulty empathizing. If your friend has some shitty news, shut up and buy him a beer already.

    - Tact and tolerance can go a long way towards keeping you out of fights, but sometimes that guy really is asking for it.

    - Losing friends is inevitable. Making enemies is not.


    - Having a good tailor is important; talking too much about having one is a pretension. 

    - Find a good place to get your alterations done. This is most likely not where you get your dry-cleaning done.

    - Gentlemen remove their hats indoors. 

    - Never apologize for two days of stubble. It lengthens the appearance of the jaw, and some ladies like that kind of thing.


    - Recognize the time value of money, and start spending appropriately.

    - Overtip everybody. Doormen, valets, bartenders - their job is in fact tougher than yours. They have to put up with people like you all day.

    - Debt, no matter how creatively structured, is anathema to peace of mind.

    - Leisure travel is expensive, but it is by no means an indulgence. 


    - Debates over terminology and semantics are for archivists and academics. If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them.

    - No one gives a damn about the size of your to-do list.

    - How we handle ambiguity and failure have a lot to do with our potential for success.

    - Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.

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