I am not who I thought I’d be. And I like it that way.
When you were twenty, what was the image you had in your head of what your 40-year-old self would look like?
My twenty-year-old vision of my forty-year-old self was all biz.
Never wanted to get married. Or, if I got married, I’d definitely wear black (Seriously! I was certifiable). And kids? Absolutely, positively no kids. Ever. Too much important work to be done! Too many mountains to climb.
This was going to be me at 40 (except for the red hair, pixie nose, blue eyes, of course) – just generally kicking butt & taking names in a chic, gray pinstripe suit.
But then, this charmer, with his hint ‘o mischief smile, got me to eat my words on marriage by the ripe old age of 27.
I totally wore white (and loved every minute of it).
He also had the courage and the grace to put his desire for children on the back burner for a few years while I grappled with the idea of upending our life.
When I’d panic and think, “there’s no way!” he’d just smile and calmly say, “If and when you’re ready, you’re going to make a great mom.”
And now, here we are. Two kids later…
..loving it so much we’re contemplating a puppy.
While still working, I’m doing it well outside the structured environment of corporate America. It definitely feels a little wacky some days. Technically, I think the actual description for what I’m doing is “Leaning Out.” Maybe even aggressively.
At least that’s what the 20-year-old-version-of-my-40-year-old-self thinks I’m doing. And she is deeply, deeply uncomfortable with it all.
My actual 40-year-old self is just fine thankyouverymuch. First of all, she begs to differ with her 20-year-old-version when it comes to the leaning out description. Um hello? Since when did sixty hours of work (even if you put them in at non-standard times) count as slacking?
As for marriage, kids, suburbia, and the unconventional job?
I chose them. Actively, willingly, excitedly, with arms-wide-open.
I want to be exactly where I am. Doing what I am doing. Downshifting, side- shifting, upshifting…whatever the current moment calls for.
So Miss. 20-year-old-version-of-my-40-year-old-self, it’s time for you to stand down.
I realized in a blinding flash over over our Fourth of July holiday just how much havoc you were wreaking on my psyche. YOU have been the primary source of my anxiety. Of that nagging feeling I wasn’t living up to my full potential. You were the image flashing in my head that I have been trying to live up to – and beating myself up over because my current reality is so far from it.
I’m so over that. I’m so over YOU.
You served a purpose in my 20s, to be sure – but you don’t belong here, now. You think in a way that is entirely too linear. You lack nuance. Your edges are too hard. Your a slave to the tyranny of either/or thinking.
Between the ages of 20-40 I learned first-hand just how cyclical life is. I learned that soft is more resilient than hard. Shades of gray are infinitely more useful and, frankly, a heck of a lot more interesting than black and white. And that when you open yourself up to the possibility of yes/and, incredible things happen.
So apparition-of-me-at-40, I am going to stop confusing you with the actual-me-at-40 now.
Whew. Feels better around here already.
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