On Saturday I will be 46. To say that this is a stunning revelation is a bit of an understatement. Last week my gynecologist was even shocked about it (I was 18 when I first started seeing him). But it is true, and it is what it is. I may be seeing shadows form below my eyes and Googling osteopenia, but there is an upside to creeping up on the half-century mark.
No really. There is.
I know more than I did 20 years ago when I married a cop (who looks like he’s 12 in the wedding pictures) and started buying real furniture. I’m more confident and less materialistic. Funny that feeling comfortable in your own skin comes when that skin starts to lose the battle with gravity.
There are things that I know for sure now, things that will never leave me or fail me.
Worry is a waste of energy. I’ve never been a huge worrier, but we all worry once in a while. Anytime I’ve worried about something it hasn’t come to pass. All the crap and unhappiness in my life came at me from my blindside. I never saw it coming. It’s the things you don’t expect and can’t prepare for that will knock the wind out of you. Worrying just eats up precious real estate in your head and causes your body to release hormones that are not good for you. I don’t recommend it.
It is what it is. You plan, you work, you do everything right and it all blows up anyway. Welcome to life, sweetie. This is it and you have to deal with what is. You can also call this “everything happens for a reason.” I know there are people who think that’s crap, but I’ve seen it work in my own life. Things will be what they are supposed to be, and sometimes you get exactly what you need even if you didn’t want it. When people tell me they don’t know who I “do it” when facing Mack’s issues (lord knows nothing with that child is ever easy on either of us), I tell them that I simply do it. It is what it is and life goes on.
Kindness is a superpower. Kindness can change the world. It can turn someone’s day around; it can turn someone’s life around. If every one of us practiced kindness on a daily basis, a lot of sadness and strife could be avoided. Simply resisting the urge to say something snarky to someone who inadvertently did you wrong can be huge – it can keep a less-than-ideal situation from becoming a incident that casts a pall on the rest of your day. And people are more likely to go out of their way to help you if you are nice – because so many people aren’t. But don’t be surprised if people react oddly to your kindness. They just aren’t used to it.
Happiness is an inside job. I am a happy person by nature, but at some point in my life, perhaps when depression came calling, I lost my way. Even medicated something was missing. It could have been perimenopause (it’s like being a teenager all over again – but without the tight butt and sense of immortality), but I honestly think it was that I was looking outside myself for happiness. I’d never done that before. I went to therapy, and looking back, I realize the therapist was gently trying to guide me to do my own thing and focus on myself. It took awhile but it finally sunk in – I was the only one who could make me happy. I can’t help but wish she’d told me that in the first session; it would have saved me time and money. I highly recommend An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness by the lovely, talented and wise Britt if you want to take charge of your own happiness. It’s an awesome book, and I’d say that even if I didn’t help her edit it.
It’s not about you (AKA Don’t take anything personally). I find this to be the hardest lesson of all, but the most liberating. When I say this to people I invariably hear back, “I’m not taking it personally,” even while they are getting twisted about something that someone else did (presumably to them). Not taking things personally means you understand that the office bitch is generally a bitch and it has nothing to do with you. Treat her with kindness and if you don’t get kindness back, feel sorry for her, not yourself. It has nothing to do with you. She’s unhappy with something in her life. Realize that people have their own drama going on in their heads and that colors their behavior. Sometimes people make mistakes or are cranky or spacey or whatever – that happened before you came along. Don’t get caught up in other people’s crap. Keep your eyes on your own paper and be the type of person you’d want spend time with.
My birthday present to you – I hope you find them as helpful to you as they are to me.