‘‘I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”
Turning 30 was a breeze — it was when I turned 31 that something shifted. I have no idea why those 31 candles got to me so much. I suspect, in retrospect, that I was down-in-the-dumps about being “in my 30s.” Which, sounds utterly ridiculous to me, now, as a 51 1/2-year-old woman. What a waste of energy that was to be disappointed (ugh) about being 31.
It’s amazing to me how much a person changes over the course of their life. That 31-year-old me would not even recognize this 51-year-old version. And this 51-year-old me wishes she could go back and provide some much-needed insight to the 31-year-old who was so (stupidly) distraught about being …well, 31.
I honestly can’t pinpoint why being this particular age was so difficult to accept. I just remember that there were some dark days, and I was critical of myself more often than not. I was too old. I was too fat. I was this. And I wasn’t that. I remember feeling very self-conscious around other people. Not ever feeling that I was “enough.” I was my own worst enemy.
So much of my time was wasted feeling inadequate. Years of worrying about whether this person liked me or if what I was wearing looked “right” on me. Never feeling quite good enough. I met people and I wondered if they could see through the pretense. I worried that they could see how much I didn’t have figured out. I analyzing every encounter — playing out the scene in my head as I tried to go to sleep at night. Did I really say that? Why didn’t I say that? What must she think of me? Why did I wear that?
Oh yea, I had self-doubt nailed back then. When I replayed a social scenario, there was rarely a time (in my mind) when I walked away with a flawless performance.
The truth is this: we spend so much time thinking about what others think of us, when most of the time, they aren’t thinking of us at all. They’re just putting one step in front of the other, just like we are.
But time is running short. And I’ve long since given up my need for external approval. The decisions I make are intentional. And it feels damn good to do it my way.
I look at time so differently now, too. I guess that comes with age — knowing that it’s not infinite. That there are so many more years behind me than in front of me. Being present in that helps to keep those ridiculous doubts and fears at bay. There is no time to waste on any of that. There is only time for love, and new adventures. And I feel grateful every day that I am 51. Maybe even grateful that I’m NOT 31 anymore.
Here’s my advice: Don’t wait 20 years to figure this out, like I did. Love yourself today. Time is growing short.
“You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”