I feel better in my 40s than I ever have before. I have less time for BS, and I’m not afraid to speak up and say “no” like I once was.
I had so much angst in my 20s about buying a home, having children, and being able to afford that vacuum cleaner I really wanted while still being able to pay off my student loans. I didn’t even realize how much angst that caused me. But all of that is behind me now.
I have gray hair poking out of my head, and my skin ages by ten years every winter from the dry air. I must have the heat turned on in my car full blast because my circulation had gone crap.
I don’t bounce back the way I used to after a late night and a few glasses of wine with friends, and I need more water to function properly, which sends me to the restroom every half hour.
And honestly, I’m having so much more fun — white hair, creaky ankles, and all.
I remember in my younger years hearing stories about how people owned their laugh lines and loved themselves more in their 50s than they ever had before and I wasn’t buying what they were selling.
I also remember looking down at my 20-year-old body and thinking it would never be good enough, but I’m over that now too. I wasted a lot of time thinking I’d never measure up instead of focusing on living my life with intent and letting all the rest go. I regret my time worrying about those things because it’s so much more pleasant here.
These days, I cover my grays, and I’m able to pull from my library of life lessons; there are shelves and shelves of them. Some smell old and dusty, and I’d rather leave them there and never crack them open. Some remind me of how far I’ve come, but mostly it’s a privilege that I get to step back and look at the tapestry of experiences that have shaped me.
By the Time You Reach Middle Age…
By the time you reach middle age, you’ve already made so many mistakes you become unafraid of screwing up again because, really, after all the screw-ups and hardships, you’re still here, aren’t you?
By the time your reach middle age, you are out of the trenches with your kids and able to enjoy the adults they are becoming.
By the time you reach middle age, you realize what you need in a friendship, a bra, and you know how often your stomach can tolerate dairy.
By the time you reach middle age, you understand yourself, and you can hear your intuition and gut speaking louder than ever. You know you are responsible for yourself, and there are times when you listen to your inner voice and are so glad you have the experience under your belt that helped you prevent some big mistakes.
Other times when you decide not to follow that gnawing internal alarm, you always think, I know better than that.
You have learned life is fluid, and you are only responsible for so many of life’s outcomes. You can look back and finally believe that experiences, lost friends, and laugh lines are happening for you, not to you.
I’m not saying reaching middle age doesn’t come with its own problems. We are all trying to figure this part of life out. Between getting our kids off to college, and helping our aging parents, it can be downright draining and lonely here.
But what I do know is that I’ve done a lot of things in my life, including but not limited to birthing children, losing friends, buying a home, changing jobs, and learning how to cope with the things that pop up along the way to make life extra arduous. And I’ve been around long enough to know, whatever happens, I can handle what comes at me better than I did the last time.
And that realization comes with a huge sense of freedom I’d never let myself get away with feeling when I was younger.
Man, I wasted so much time, but I’m not going to camp out there. I’m excited to be bursting into this second chapter with the knowledge that I’ve been able to collect on this journey to middle age.
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