My birthday is coming up in three weeks. It’s the big 4-5. As we continue to settle into our new life in Montreal, I’ve been taking care of the administrative side of life lately. I feel like things are progressing in a positive manner. While there have been moments since August when I’ve felt overwhelmed, I’ve been relative steady which has me re-evaluating my forties.
I’m not thrilled with my soon-to-be age. Mid-forties. Middle aged. How did that happen? And yet, I’m the best version of me that I’ve ever been. I started to realize how much I’ve grown in my fifth decade. Growth that I had sought out for years but couldn’t attain because I didn’t know how or wasn’t ready for.
I got lucky in 2014. I had an epiphany. I realized that while I could own a home, drive a car, hold a job, have a child and basically present an adult to the world, there was a part of me which was stuck. I ached to be the woman I knew I could be. I hadn’t noticed until then that parts of me were stuck in childhood. I needed to work on those parts so they could grow up and join the rest of me.
Some of the things that plagued me might be familiar to you:
- Fear of public speaking
- Being overly sensitive and reacting in extremes like anger or tears
- Being selfish, cold, stubborn, and unable to empathize
- Low self-esteem which led to a lot of self-shaming, self-loathing, self-doubt
- Huge FOMO (fear of missing out) so bad I would avoid sleep
Those are the subject lines. Under those, I could list example after example. When I looked at myself from the outside, I saw a winner. I had a family, friends I could count on, enough money to live and travel, and two careers. As a person, I was smart, funny and capable. Notice the mask. No coincidence that I called my first published story Masks. The face we present to the world is sometimes so different from the truth we live.
From the inside, I was a total mess. I carried so much fear and anger. It had gotten to the point where I felt like those were my two main emotions. This is where I was at age 40 in 2014. I hated it. It was no way to live. How many more years could I keep hardening? I already felt so brittle and ready to break. I had to make some changes and decided to seek out some help.
Journey Vs Destination
I joined a self-help group. I talked to my doctor. I started therapy. I read books. I spoke to the people around me. Early on, I finally clued in that one of my main beliefs about life was completely wrong. I would never arrive because life is not about getting to the destination. Life is about the journey and how we live it. Up to that point, I had lived it in confinement. I had to release myself from that stifling environment and recognize that I was free. Whether slow or fast, constant growth and development were of the highest importance.
It wasn’t easy facing my fears. After all, they are there for a reason. I had so much proof that they were valid that it was hard to find proof that letting go of them would give me a better life. And who would I be without all the fears and defects? I would be the woman I wanted to be. That was scary too. What if that woman turned out to be someone I didn’t want to be? What if I’d spent my time wishing for the wrong thing?
I wasn’t alone on my journey. I’ve met so many people with the same fears and questions and with different fears and questions, but we were all changing because we had hope.
I still work on myself every day. It’s easier now. I’ve let go of so much baggage that I can more easily unpack an old suitcase because I have the room if you will. I now have the capacity to handle more and change more and even accept what I can’t change. I guess I’ve been building resilience. So my forties have been great. I’ve worked on myself so much and yet, I am so much more energetic than when I stood rooted in my mire of fear and anger.
What have been some of your best years? What made them so good? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.