I had sat down two to three times prior to this post to write about what entering my 40s meant to me. Each time failing to accurately bring my thoughts, feelings, and emotions down together on paper. Perhaps I had to pass that threshold before I could describe on point what plagued me.
I thought about my teens 20s and 30s. Taking in the details of what was happening in my life through each one. The good, bad, great and ugly. The stepping stones. The missed marks. The learning. And I realized, it took me 40 years to figure out who I was. What I was good at. And have the confidence to be completely me. I think to myself, I have finally arrived. I’ve made it. I am a success. But not in the way you might think. I am not talking about riches. I am finally successful at being me.
If that doesn’t seem like such a great feat, let me paint the picture for you this way. I think we spend a great deal of our lives living it the wrong way. Caring more about how someone else may think you should live or be. I care more about my happiness now than I ever have. Because when I am happy, I am better at making those around me happy. I am a better mother, wife and friend.
But saying you are happy seems so vague. So lets be clear. Being happy doesn’t mean you have everything you want in life. It doesn’t mean there are no problems. It means you are content inside. You are at peace with yourself. You understand your weaknesses and failures. It means you have been through enough in this life to know you can survive anything. You can overcome anything. And you can be yourself without fear.
So as I enter my 40s these are the things I can appreciate about life. That I have lived long enough to learn valuable lessons. That I have known pain, loss, failure, joy and love. And I wouldn’t take any of it back. Because each chapter represents a piece of me. Like a piece of the puzzle, each pressed in one by one, I can finally clearly see who I was meant to be.
And so to my former younger self these are the words I would say.
Your going to make alot of mistakes in this world. And your going to beat yourself up for each of them. No one has ever been harder on yourself than you have been. But in time you will see them all as lessons. You will accept your mistakes. You’ll forgive yourself and move on.
Your going to get hurt. And when this happens you will grow from the pain. And forgive those around you. And realize that everyone is on their own journey and none of it really had anything to do with you.
Don’t let anyone control your heart, thoughts, or emotions. You do have a say in how your life is going to be. Grow a back bone and stand up for yourself. This is your life after all.
You are such a naive trusting soul. But you will soon learn trust is earned not given. And when someone shows you who they are you believe them the first time. You can change no one. You are responsible for only yourself.
Stop blending in and allow yourself to shine. Your creativity is a gift. Get out there and use it. You don’t have to be a conventional anything. You were never made for that. The more you fight it the more miserable you will be.
And last but not least.. Do not be afraid to be the vulnerable open book that you are. There is no shame in honesty. Your willingness to be open and real will help more people than you think.
My 40s self