Earlier this year, I was having dinner at a restaurant with one of my closest friends. We have known each other since elementary school and we both turned 40 this year. In conversation, we discovered that neither one of us had ever imagined ourselves at this age. We reminisced on the fact that as teenagers, when our mothers were 40, we thought they had one foot in the nursing home, so to speak, and that their lives were pretty much over.
Now that this milestone is upon us, we have a much different outlook than we had as kids. We both feel that we have “arrived” and that our lives are just starting. We acknowledged a geniune coming of the second age – one in which we were shedding the insecurities of youth and approaching a new era of wisdom and reflection.
As we laughed over a particularly delicious glass of a grown folks beverage, she told me about a quote her friend had shared with her when she turned 30.
“You can spend your entire 30’s searching for yourself and then spend your entire 40’s not apologizing for what you found.”
Boom. There it is.
So, here I am World. No apologies needed nor a willingness to give them on my part. I have taken a long, hard look at my life and realized that, as I am, I am enough. I have finally learned that the only person’s permission I need for my happiness is mine. The intermission is officially over. Now, I am warmed up and it is time for my second act.
We have finally passed that stage of uncertainty we felt in our 20’s and the challenges of starting a family and a career in the 30’s. As we stand at the precipice of reflection in our 40’s, we find ourselves in the sweet spot of transition. We can look back on the last 20 years to see where we started, what course we charted for ourselves, if any, and where we ended up. Some of us are on the same track that we initially set for ourselves. Some of us took a few detours along the way. And some of us ended up in another country, speaking an entirely different language. Either way, we each have roughly 40 years of data to draw on to take that next step towards living our life of authenticity in alignment with our truest dreams and desires.
Let’s pause for a moment here, as we take a good long look in the mirror at ourselves. We must consider that if we are not careful, those insecurities and uncertainties from our 20’s can plague us into our 30’s – and could very well still be hanging on into our 40’s. This could be the reason why some of us self-sabotage our own happiness, our relationships, and our careers.
If you get here and you still are burdened by old demons, I encourage you to actively seek some help. Go talk it out and seek new coping mechanisms from a therapist, hypnotherapist, pastor, astrologer, mystic, or someone who can listen and help you gain a new perspective. Meditation is also a great way to learn how to quiet the mind, focus on the present and leave the past right where it should be – in the past. It’s important to consider your future for a bit to get your footing in the present.
Yoga is a another great way to seek equanimity and to tie the body to the mind. By finding ways to stay in the now, you can focus on what is important: You.
Think back to a time in your youth when you were asked the simple question, “what do you want to do with your life?” Many of us had a dream. Maybe that dream didn’t read “doctor” or “lawyer” or “engineer”, so you kept it inside. Even still, it was likely a dream that filled you with wonder and joy and felt so right. Maybe we shared it with a few friends but downplayed it and eventually just tucked it away to settle for a more practical or socially-accepted path in life.
But today is a new day. Do you remember Pixar’s Wall-E and his little plant? Do you recall how much he loved and nurtured that plant and how it symbolized the rebirth of the planet? If you have been hiding that little nugget of a dream for a long time, it is time to bring it out, water it and watch it grow.
You have more confidence now and more wisdom to make the right decisions, no matter what life has thrown at you. Perhaps you wanted to be a champion bowler ever since you watched “The Big Lewbowski” or wanted to start a company of Pomeranian dog hotels. It doesn’t matter what dream you had. It just matters that you go for it. It can be a lofty dream or a series of small, quiet goals. Just remember: if it will bring you joy, you must do it.
You have done the daughter-wife-mother thing. You have sacrificed yourself for your career or your relationship. Now is the time. Seize this moment to do what is in your heart. This is your time to shine. And when you have finished, be sure to take a bow.