I have a big birthday coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m excited, because I don’t let my age limit me. Age is just a number and it doesn’t dictate what I do or how I live. If anything, it makes me more active and adventurous. Life is too short to sit and let others have all the fun. Just like sitting at my desk too long, my legs get stiff; I want to get out and do, work or play, and not get stiff. I still have kids at home, and the fourth deserves a mom as involved as the first.
There are a lot of benefits to getting older. Wisdom. Comfort in my own skin. Freedom. Happiness being who I am and knowing more about who that is. Flexibility. No longer having to keep up with the Joneses. Being alone without being lonely, enjoying my own company. Realizing drama is a waste of time.
It’s liberating to get to the point in life where things can still bother you, but you decide that you can live with it. True maturity is being able to acknowledge something bad or wrong, recognize that it can be hurtful or detrimental, but go forward anyway without making a big deal out of it. That doesn’t mean you can’t be displeased about something, but you have to decide you won’t let it control your life or your decisions. You don’t have to share your feelings on it if it’s futile; you can just walk away. Big girl panties and all. I’m no pro at this by any means, but it’s something I’m working on.
Being comfortable with myself is an ongoing process. As things change in life, I try to roll with it. Flexibility. I’ve still got these 10 pounds sitting here that I am determined to lose, but I’m also comfortable knowing that it’s not life-changing if I don’t. I don’t need to attract a new man or look better than anyone. I am lucky to be married to someone who loves me for what I am, not what I may be. That helps me to be comfortable with myself, fat rolls and all. I love to be fit, but I’m also learning that fit doesn’t always mean thin, and I’m comfortable with that reality, too. I’m comfortable knowing I’m too nice and I get walked on frequently as a result of it. I’m also comfortable in knowing I won’t ever be able to run a 5-minute mile or speak Spanish as fluently as I’d like. In other words, I’m comfortable with myself, flaws, weaknesses and all. I don’t want to be someone else. We don’t need to seek perfection in life, just a happy, kind version of ourselves.
The realization that you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and that you can be happy with where you’re at without having to flaunt it is freeing. Everyone’s on their own journey to self-discovery, even if they’re not actively aware of it, so part of really discovering yourself is knowing you don’t have to tell people about it to be proud of your accomplishments.
I’ve never been impressed by money or material items – I mean, I love a gorgeous pair of shoes, being able to travel and having a nice house, but not having those doesn’t make you any less of a person. Bragging is a complete turnoff to me. There’s grace in humility, remembering where you came from and how you got to where you are now. Looking down on people with less is not an admirable quality. From a social media standpoint, it wasn’t created to show off our latest acquisitions or to chastise others. One more “What’s YOUR excuse?” like the infamous blog piece that was on all the morning TV shows, and I may have to block some pages. No one owes anyone an explanation and no one should tell them they need one.
And that’s another thing I think that comes with age. Just because we think something doesn’t mean that we need to say it, or that it’s even right. Superiority, smugness, judgment, it really only serves to boost the speaker’s ego, not to help anyone. Self-control is a skill that is way undervalued. Children have no filter until we teach them that kindness requires it, so we can’t require something of them that we ourselves don’t have. I used to love confident people, but now I’m able to differentiate between confident and arrogant.
These last few months, I’ve had more time to be a little self-aware overall. It’s been uber-illuminating. In fact, it’s been one of the best silver linings in the grey clouds. When you are experiencing one of those blips on your life radar, you notice who is there and who isn’t. I don’t want to go through life with a tit-for-tat perspective, because I think we’d all be disappointed, but the reality is that when you have a tough time, you want people to care and you want people to talk WITH you. Include you. Remember when you extended your shoulder, your hand or your wallet. And you have to be given a little grace and understanding because your attention isn’t going to be on all the other things. It can’t be. Things get to be about you, even if for just a little bit. There’s nothing selfish about needing support. I used to be embarrassed to ask for help but as I get older, I learn it’s not a weakness, but a strength. You just need to ask the right people. A lot of people offer help but when it comes right down to it, they’re unavailable with nary a reason.
That leads me to keeping up with the Joneses. It’s become a non-issue for the most part. I don’t need to keep up with the latest and greatest of purchases to feel better. (But adding to my shoe collection is still fun, though I do that purely for fun and personal enjoyment. Love.Pretty.Shoes!) I just don’t feel compelled to do things because others do anymore, though I felt like I was the only one without Disney passes for a while there, when in reality, none of the rest of the family wants to go consistently and I don’t have the time to go that often due to other commitments and hobbies. A new washer and dryer would be cool, too, but more to fill my own desire, not that of someone else’s. Back in high school, if the most popular girl wore a pink sweater with fringe, everyone wanted a pink sweater with fringe. I am SO glad high school is long over, I’ve never been a follower and I honed my eyeroll back in 8th grade while wearing a purple sweater. High school also meant drama, gossipers, people intentionally causing rifts and girls stealing boyfriends. We were forced to watch, stuck in classrooms, but as adults, we don’t need to engage as we’re no longer forced to be in the environment we don’t like.
I’m happier now being alone than I ever was. I’m happily married with a large family, a thriving business, a fantastic job, hobbies and friends, but sometimes, I really just want to sit down with a glass of wine and read a book in a quiet room. Watch a scandalous Lifetime movie. Play Farmville. Study SEO. (I’m weird.) Sometimes, in fact, I even choose to do those things over going out. Being alone doesn’t mean lonely. They are two entirely separate things. I think it was Robin Williams that said something akin to being alone surrounded by people, and that’s so true. It’s a mentality, not necessarily a physical fact.
At this point in life, I’m pickier about who I share my time with. If it’s drama, it’s not happening. I also don’t like people who lie or tell you one thing but do another. I have less obligations and more choices. I value my relationships, and I’m fortunate that while I’ve learned there are some that aren’t worth the effort I’ve given them, I’ve got new ones building that are worth it. I’ve had the most unexpected people show up at my door with a bottle of wine, a meal, a brunch invite to celebrate my promotion, a networking opportunity or an invitation to be the guest, not the hostess. (Those invitations may be my favorite; I’m so often the hostess, it’s great when people understand that a nice informal meal where you can take your shoes off and chat the evening away and not have to clean or cook is such a welcome thing. I’m easy, I don’t need fancy nor do I always need to be out in the public eye.) My fellow bloggers and the social media community members have also been amazing. I’m truly so thankful for their friendships and support. In a field that could be very competitive, these wonderful people come together to inquire and include, and for someone who has worked from home, by choice, for over 20 years, that’s a big blessing.
Aging, whether it’s in your 20s or 40s, isn’t a bad thing. Sure, I don’t like the wrinkles or the fact that sometimes I want to be in bed at 9pm, but there’s only so much I can control. I’m trying to focus on controlling what I can, and that’s me. I’m not here to tell others how to live but I can reduce their impact on me and my life. And that’s insight worthy of aging.