I’m careening head first into 40 (less than 9 months to go) and I’ve been kicking and screaming the whole way. There is no way I can be so close! It’s like I never saw it coming. I did not prepare myself for this moment of my life. I guess I expected to always be young…like, it happens to everyone else, but it’s not going to happen to me. I have spent 39 years in denial of the approaching decade. At 24, I was dreading 25 because I thought it was scarily close to 30. At 29, I thought my life was just about over because 30 always seemed ancient to me. I still wasn’t ready to adult! Some days, I still don’t think I am ready to adult, but here I am 9+ years past 30 and staring 40 in it’s face. And you know what? I’m actually starting to believe it can be beautiful. I realize now that I have learned a lot in the first half my life (much of it within the past decade) that I’d like to go back and clue my 30 year old self in on, including:
- Not everyone will like you and that is actually okay. I am a recovering people pleaser so this has been a particularly difficult one to grapple with, but I think I am there most days. Whether it’s because of a misunderstanding, or clashing personalities, or just plain jealousy, not everyone thinks you’re amazing. But the important people do, and that’s all that matters.
- Not everyone will understand you and that, too, is okay. Whether it’s because you’re an introvert (which I am and sometimes people have jumped to the conclusion that I am unfriendly because of this) or it’s because you make a decision that some people don’t agree with or can’t comprehend (like marry a divorced man with kids, or leave the US to live in a third world country, or return from that country because your gifts/talents are better utilized for that country at home….oh, I could go on), people will not always understand you. And really they don’t need to. You do you and let them do them and move on. It makes life much more chill for you.
- You find out who you are and you like it, but you also know you are still becoming. At 25, I had no idea who I was. I was still searching for my identity. Not anymore. I can look back and see that a career didn’t define me (that’s a good thing, because I never really had one!). Becoming a wife didn’t define me. Adding the title of mom to my life’s resume didn’t define me either. The bad choices I made didn’t make me who I am. The good choices didn’t either. The journey I’ve walked and the paths I’ve taken, the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had and even those I didn’t have, all of these things together play a part in making me who I am. But as long as I am on this side of Heaven, I will never stop growing, never stop becoming. I continue to learn more about myself and who I was created to be every day.
- Enjoy the adventure. There have been many times in my life when I have fallen prey to the “ifs and whens” of life…when I get married, then life begins; when I have kids, then it will be even better; if we can make more money, then life will really be exciting; if I could move away, life would be more fun. Nope, nope, nope to all of it! Marriage and children have definitely made life an interesting adventure, but I didn’t suddenly “arrive” when those events happened. I moved away and “fun” was only a small part of that particular journey (that’s a different blog topic entirely!). And money…ha! We’re still not rolling in it, but guess what?! It doesn’t matter. I’ve learned to enjoy each moment (and money can’t buy the best moments)..and even the more difficult ones I can see as important (maybe not in the moment, but often when I look back) because they are all part of the bigger plan for my life, and I’m starting to get it.
- You are beautiful. You always have been, you just were comparing yourself to a standard that doesn’t exist in reality. You are you and there’s not one single person on the face of this earth exactly like you, so there’s nothing to compare “you” to. Your perceived flaws are part of what make you, you and are what make you real. It’s hard to get close to someone who is always trying to be someone else. The important people in your life want you to be the real you and like you for who you really are.
- Life won’t end when you begin the next decade. As long as God keeps you on this earth, there is more to do…more kind words to speak, more blessings to give and to receive by reaching out, more people to love.
So, BRING IT ON, 40! You (almost) don’t scare me anymore!