I’m not young enough to know everything. -Oscar Wilde
Lately, I have been feeling in life like I am working in a new pair of hiking boots that I will wear for many years to come. They aren’t quite my favourite boots, yet, but I am working on it. These boots are going to get me through all types of terrain and already I like how they feel, for the most part. I’ve needed new boots for a long time. The perfect boots I had before I had babies don’t fit anymore, and I just hadn’t spent the time seeking their replacement until the snow melted this year. Mostly, because finding the perfect boots takes care and time, and I wasn’t able to give myself that until now. Yes, I am actually talking about hiking boots. But as I get older, I realize that hiking boots and life skills have a lot in common. Our ways of doing things change as we grow and we must update our tools along the way.
So, I turned 40 this year, and though I was actually rather skeptical I would start having age related epiphanies, as described by others who’d already been this age, I am pleased to say a few of these realizations have indeed popped up. So I thought I would share some of the more significant ideas to me, acknowledging that significance is personal, READ: not always shared. Take what works for you and leave the rest.
Use your voice
This is pretty simple. We are each born with a unique take on the world that we can only share through communicating. Words, or any form of communication for that matter, are a gift. If you feel compelled to express something, I implore you, DO IT. There is a very good reason you are being pulled to communicate, what you have to say needs to be heard. Forget about whether or not you will sound learned enough, whether or not you will be “right.” If you happen to feel any judgment around what you are expressing, observe it but do not take it in, knowing that it belongs to someone else. And, perhaps the hardest, try to let go of the fact others may not agree with you, which brings me to my next point:
Conflict is not always negative
Most of us are taught to keep the peace at great cost to ourselves. Harmony over acrimony, right? Well, actually, no. What if something in your life is not working for you? Should you remain silent to ensure you don’t create conflict? Certainly not, but many of us make this choice daily. Speak your truth in the kindest most compassionate way you can. A message of love and kindness is much easier to hear than one of frustration and hostility. Having something you need to express that you know others may not agree with does not absolve you from personal responsibility, but you most certainly have the right to speak up for yourself so you feel heard, safe, respected, valued, etc.
Don’t be so attached to the outcome
Something is unfolding in your life, and maybe you find it uncomfortable. Resist the urge to control it. There is a natural order to things, and having faith that the correct thing will happen might just be your best option. The perception that we can control things just isn’t true. You wouldn’t (couldn’t?) control how a flower blossoms, how robins construct their nests and fill them with eggs, and when you look at things that way doesn’t it seem silly to try to control anything? Doesn’t it make sense to offer what you can and let the rest happen organically? More importantly, when it really comes down to it, do we actually have a choice?
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
You are going to make mistakes. Several of them. We all are. Don’t worry. Accept responsibility. Move on. Practice.
Learn how to receive
I was out to dinner with a friend sometime in the last month and we got to talking about how some of us (ME!) have a difficult time taking it in when someone else acknowledges us for doing something for them. I still have not figured out why this is so hard, but I am going to share this one anyway. For example, when someone says “thank you” to me, I have a really hard time saying “you’re welcome.” I usually say “thank YOU.” Through this conversation, my friend taught me something extremely valuable, by not allowing someone to acknowledge what you have done for them, you are taking away their voice and their ability to express their gratitude. Not okay. While I am still in awe of people for which “you’re welcome” just seems to roll off the tongue, I have heard myself utter “my pleasure” (this was my friend’s suggestion of a compromise) a few times. Progress. It feels good.
So these are just some of my musings of late. I believe each of us hold infinite wisdom and would love, Dear Reader, if you would like to share some of yours. Specifically, I would love to hear about things you came to realize as a result of age, experience and your change of perspective on this life’s journey.