In my hour, long commute to work this morning, I was thinking about how I got to where I am in my life. My 20’s kind of sucked. They were an extension of the emotional growth of my teens with all the responsibilities of adulthood. This means I didn’t always use the best judgment or make the smartest decisions. I followed a boyfriend out west, I dated people I didn’t really like, for way too long. I loaned people money thinking they really would pay me back. Oh, what a fool I was. I wandered through my 20’s with very little guidance and somehow entered my next decade with my Master’s Degree and a career path.
My thirties were better but I was still a butterfly wriggling out of my cocoon. My early thirties were spent as if I was still a 20-something and my mid-thirties were where I got real. These are the years I came out of denial about all my own crap. I took responsibility for my behavior and path in life. I redefined the relationships I would maintain with my family of origin. I had to basically… grow up.
My late 30’s were a heck of a lot better. I got married, started a family, and put down roots. I didn’t have a lot of stability growing up and have always struggled with defining who I am. This is where the advantage of turning 40 came into play.
By your mid-30’s you don’t give a crap about the things you were worried about or interested in during your 20’s. By your 40’s, we have gained the wisdom and experience to know that almost everything is a lie and that your family and children are all that really matter. You have slaved away at jobs, you have foolishly spent obscene amounts of your income on frivolous crap, are finally saving for retirement and are not worried about what the neighbors think about the fact you are a ‘one car family’.
When I was younger, I bought into the status quo. I borrowed money for college and then got a job and worked to buy crap, have a car, an apartment. I have been in student loan debt since I graduated college at age 22. I am still in student loan debt…19 years later. I felt like I was locked into place. I believed I could not change careers without yet another educational degree in hand. I believed there was a magical timeline of when I should “accomplish” or attain certain life goals. I felt like a loser for being 38 years old before I finally earned to a 50K income. I felt like my peers were light years ahead of me professionally and financially.
I don’t know exactly where these ‘ideas’ and beliefs came from. Societal expectations, television, parents???…I am guessing here. The point of my post today is to tell you that if you believe in the status quo, you may never full fill your dreams. Just because you didn’t get your MFA by age 25 does NOT mean you will never become a writer or publish a book. Just because you are not married with kids at 30, does not mean that you won’t be by age 40. Heck, Julia Child didn’t start cooking until she was 40!
It doesn’t matter where you are right now as you are reading this. It only matters where you believe you can go next. You define your own path. Now get going!