A friend recently posted about a “WTF” moment when she realized just how old she would be on her next birthday. She followed it up with “I’m still trying to figure out my place in this world.” I don’t know that we ever stop trying to figure out our place in the world. Life is constantly evolving. We have continual opportunities to reinvent ourselves as we learn and grow. That’s the beautiful thing about life.
I’m 55 years old and have come out the other side of difficult and even tragic circumstances numerous times. The one thing I’ve realized now is that life is a bunch of fleeting moments where we waste so much time and energy worrying and never feeling satisfied; yet these become the times we look back on longingly wondering why we weren’t happy, why all the wonderful things we had – especially youth – weren’t enough.
My forties were difficult. After spending my 30s building a family, a home, and a career, staying on top of my game became the challenge. Sometimes I felt the universe was conspiring against me. I often felt bitter and angry at the hand I was dealt; working full time, solely supporting my family, sandwiched between a school-aged child and elderly parents. But the bitterness and the anger made things worse and I look back now on what are actually some found memories, and wonder why I couldn’t be happy.
Sometimes the feeling you’ve hit rock bottom is what gets your attention. In 2014 after surviving cancer, a job loss, and my husband’s suicide, I let go. Being in charge, earning top dollar wasn’t as important. So I took a break. I made parenting a priority. I explored new career options, I found new networks, and new love, and moved half way across the county. Not going as far as to call it a “mid-life crisis” but, yes, I even bought a convertible.
The bitterness and the anger were left in the past. Gratitude is the state of being that’s working for me now. I am loving my 50s. On paper, it can appear that I haven’t accomplished much in six years, but that’s according to old metrics and couldn’t be further from the truth.
I am proud of the parent I became and the strong bond I have with my daughter. I treasure all we’ve done together and am amazed how I was able to make it all happen for us in spite of the fact that at times resources were limited.
Even spending a lot of time together working from home through the last eight months, Kurt and I rarely fight. I know for me, it’s because I have a much better understanding of what’s important than I did in my previous relationship…in my previous decades.
This year (and I’ll write more about this at the end of the month) created an environment where living in the present moment was the only option. We all became a year older in the past 12 months. That’s a good thing. Aging is a privilege denied to so many. Be proud of your experiences, achievements, and the strength and courage that you had when faced challenges. No, we are not young any more. Our exteriors may look worn. But inside we are the best we’ve ever been.
We still don’t have to have all the answers. But we also shouldn’t have any regrets. It’s all a learning experience and each new day – regardless of our age – is another opportunity to look for our place in the world. What am I passionate about? How can I most honor my values? How can I make a difference? Reflect on the lessons that come from experiences, not the regrets. Fill our time with our most passionate pursuits. Expend our energy on the relationships that bring out the best in us.