Growing up I couldn’t see myself ever making it (literally staying alive) until I was 30. Was quite sure my abusive childhood would lead me into a situation that would kill me before then. When 30 came around I was happier than I had ever been in my life. I had married my best friend and had a thriving household. It was an occasion we celebrated and I didn’t give any thought to what 40 would bring.
Fast forward 10 years and I celebrated my 40th birthday without my love. My children made sure it was an amazing celebration – checked off a couple bucket list items for that trip – so I had no reason to feel sad but I was. On this birthday the future was all I thought about. All I had ever known myself to be was predefined roles. I didn’t FEEL 40! There was a part of my brain going “this can’t be right”.
Society pushes us to seek love, marriage, and the baby carriage as ultimate life goals. Most of us rush at them like a runaway freight train and then wonder a few years later why. What we don’t learn is how important taking care of your own self is to those goals. Literally we judge others who put themselves first. I learned to be afraid of judgement from others and expected to conform myself to whomever I needed to be to serve the situation. Fred pushed me to at least be able to start the process of finding myself and my voice but when love, marriage, and the baby carriage either died or started to leave the nest chaos ensued.
With a lot of hard work, making many mistakes along the way, I am starting to figure that out. I know I am not alone in this season of discovery…heck I’ve even see that there are books written on the subject about finding oneself after 40. I’m surrounded by good people that revel with me on whatever new thing we have discovered is not as we always thought it was. I’m in an exciting time of life where I am having a blast. It’s just flat amazing how empowering it is to not have to consult with anyone before making choices. Realizing that others are so lost in their own pain and survival that they don’t even notice the thing I used fear was a neon sign above my head. The most powerful discovery for me personally is someone else’s reality isn’t mine. I am not whatever label someone else has tried to stick on me. Someone else’s judgement of me is about them and their insecurity and fears, not me. Try that one on for size. It’ll blow your mind.
But it leads me to wonder why are we not teaching our children that nurturing your own self and being an individual is not a bad thing? What would it change for the next generation if they understood individuality with make them MORE not less? How do we break the cycle of caring and/or fearing what others think? That being a healthy individual capable of standing on your own two feet makes better relationships not worse ones? Lots of food for thought on those questions for a later post.
I’ll close with…don’t be afraid of the second chapter in life. Wherever you are on your journey about you, it’s a season of empowering change that your only regret will be not discovering these truths in your 20’s. Dust off the bucket list. MAKE a bucket list. Take the trip. Wear the whatever. Do something crazy and impulsive and do not care who is watching. Maybe YOU will inspire someone else!
Blessings y’all – Amy