Next week I will be 40. Though I never thought this milestone birthday would phase me, I’m finding it a hard pill to swallow. I know, I know, 40 is the new 30. I get that, rationally. But emotionally? Yeah, I’m still working out the kinks there.
Over the past several weeks—since the onset of my post-Christmas hangover—I’ve been doing some soul searching, trying to bring some semblance of order to my spinning mind. Though I wasn’t able to make complete sense of it all, I was able to come up with a few key truths that keep me anchored—five things I know for sure:
I have an unlimited capacity to learn. What do I want to be when I grow up? At 40, I’m still waffling on the matter. I just have this feeling like there’s something out there I’m meant to do—a new skill or trade or career or hobby. While I don’t quite yet know what it is, I find tremendous comfort in the fact that my brain is ready, willing and able to accept anything I throw its way. It is hungry for knowledge; it’s just up to me to decide what to feed it. And feed it I will.
I will fail. But I will also succeed. I’ve spent much of my life trying to avoid failure—unsuccessfully, of course. As I’ve matured through the years, though, I’ve come to accept the fact that failure is not only unavoidable, but also a critical component in one’s personal growth. Think about it: how would we appreciate success if we never knew the pain of failure? Why would we set goals if we were guaranteed to reach them? Failure pushes us to try harder… to work differently… to achieve more. No matter how crappy it may feel while in the throes of disappointment, I choose to see my failures not as a step backwards, but rather as a step towards the many future successes that await me.
I am stronger than I think. I have inner strength. Though I often doubt this fact, deep down inside I know it to be true. We all have inner strength—we just need to know how to tap into it and unleash it. There have been times in my life when I felt weak—unable to stand, or even kneel. Times when I felt I would shatter into a million pieces, leaving nothing but crumbled shards of glass in my wake. And each time, just as I felt I could take no more, a force—invisible, yet powerful—surged up from within and pulled me up and out. The resilience of the human psyche is more powerful than we know. I am stronger than I think; and I remind myself of this truth every day.
I am loved. I live in a small-ish house, drive an average car and own very little in the way of sparkly jewelry. Most of the time, I’m fine with all that. But there are times, I must admit, when I find myself longing for the more glamorous indulgences that money can buy. But when I do, I bring myself back to a more humble place of gratitude with this simple thought: Happiness does not come by way of stuff—not any kind of meaningful happiness, anyway. People, on the other hand, enrich my life in a way nothing else can. I am fortunate to have that kind of wealth. I have adoring parents, a tolerant husband, affectionate children and loyal friends—all of whom love and support me, unconditionally. What more could a girl ask for? The happiness found in the things in life is fleeting. The love that comes from people is timeless.
My children are my greatest accomplishment. I am the mom to two amazing boys, and I wake up every day thanking God for giving me this privilege. Whenever I find myself spinning in self doubt over what I’ve done with my life to date, I simply think of them—and just like that, the mental chatter of insecurity immediately quiets. Our children—aren’t they amazing? Being a parent is such a spectacular achievement. There are times when I look at my kids in awe and think, I can’t believe I made these people. I can’t believe I get to raise these people. This I know for sure: my children are amazing human beings—and they are my greatest accomplishment.
In a world with so many unanswered questions, I hang onto the things that I know to be true in my own world.