Gotta Grow Up Sometime…

* pardon any typos…stream of consciousness…tried to find them all*

It’s true, growing up takes longer than we are led to believe in childhood. (That is, growing up in all ways beyond the obvious physical maturity.) It’s amazing to think of how you look at the world from youthful, just-becoming-an-adult eyes and feel passionately that you’ll have all of life’s big questions figured out and all the negative habits you picked up along the way will have also, worked themselves out…basically, you’ll have your shit together and be successful and settled.

It really, really did seem like there was plenty of youth to sort out all your bullshit. There was plenty of time until 40 or even 45 to make the successful progression from novice to master in whatever your chosen profession was that you followed through to college and even started a promising career. Whatever the dream, it is supposed to be WELL within your grasp by now. While some things have come along, it’s maybe not as far as you expected based the timeframe you had in mind. For me that vision included being settled into a career, married with a kid or two and living in the mountains, in the house I designed, living and working according to my own schedule while  making more than enough money to have everything I require and then some, but I actually give a lot of it away to the many causes I am a part of…that’s what was supposed to be in place by my late thirties. I know, I know…hold for laughs.

Get out your tiny violins and record players. It sounds like a comical (and very typical) realization that probably most people come to when they aren’t the dream of themselves they saw in their youth.

Yet experience teaches us that life cannot be planned up to the moment. As a wise colleague put it – life zigzags and you have to be able to zig and the zag with what life throws at you. A path, including and especially the path of your life, is very rarely a direct route.

Interestingly as I muse on this topic and think about it with other people of my generation (those between ages 35-38), we seem to (many of us) have experienced a series of false starts as we embarked into our lives. We were certainly not satisfied with the lifestyles of our predecessors and elders. Getting a job and building a suburban family life was not enough. The idea of being able to do everything you wanted professionally and creatively AND have a healthy grasp on the intimate side of life (at least for women) was brought forth before I was burn. But by the time I matured into a very young adult in the late 90s, I had specific plans and I was going to see them through and they were simply just going to go the way I planned, with minor variations as I can handle being on the fly, but basically things were going to progress and get bigger. I could see it and taste it and feel it in my bones. And I still do but I’m SO much more experienced now.

I have been beaten up a bit more by life and my own mistakes well enough to know how to temper what I expect and demand more of myself. (By the way the 90s were one of the coolest decades and I was coming of age in it. Mad props to have come up in such a time that only NOW do I realize was so great since I always wanted to be from the 60s but now I appreciate my own time period.) But basically, it feels like many of us from this time period had a rocket ship start right out of the house, like way early, so that by the mid thirties it became necessary to “start over.” Start over professionally, find a better life partner, basically a reset button was required. All that we established to set up our vision of how life was supposed to go seemingly disintegrated in the middle. This was owed to a combination of naivety and the inevitable facing of some of life’s harsh realities. So we started over and found what worked better for us and got some things pretty darned right (even if we did it by accident). But in your early thirties you still think you have P-L-E-N-T-Y of time to accomplish some major goals before 40. You also don’t realize how your 30s is the true bootcamp for life.

And then you wake up one morning and your thirties are almost gone! Age 37 crossed the boundary into 38 and 40 is a LOT closer than it seemed seven years ago. What happened to all the time?

Why aren’t I as far along as I thought I would be by now? It’s not my fault is it?

Well, of course it is.

But you know what? The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that big of a deal as you have all the time you need…that is IF you are taking action and moving forward each day. Leaps and bounds aren’t always necessary. It’s in the step-by-step and day-to-day that we find we are progressing. When we look back over the steps we’ve taken, we can then see it for what it is. Growth cannot happen fast. Success and money can come at any age – it can come way early and it may come way late or at any time in between or not at all, at least in the form you imagined.

But true inner growth and evolution can ONLY happen over a matter of years. It takes time to realize life is complex and what you have already done is actually more than you’ve given yourself credit for in the past. You’ve found gratitude, plain and simple.

I see it now. It makes so much more sense now. Far from the campy adages of “you’ll understand when you get older,” it’s actually true that as you continue through the journey of life, life becomes more obvious – at least what works and what doesn’t – and you can truly act as composer/director/president of your own life by making specific choices and decisions that can take you in the direction you want to go and ensuring the energy around you (i.e. other people and your own thoughts) is uplifting and follows suit with your heart’s pursuits. It simply has to be that way. I’ve tried to keep “friends” that indulge all my bad habits or stay around family that generate only feelings of “less than” and stayed in a job that was sucking my soul away. I’ve tried speaking only in positives while internally beating myself up for any small infraction. I’ve held my mind hostage with my insecurities and dogmas about who I am and what the world should be. It ALL holds you back by closing you off from the greater world around you, from the possibilities of life, from the best version of yourself. Your internal and external environment matters, it just does.

At some point one really DOES have to grow up in all senses of the term. I feel that time has come for me. This reality has been screaming in my brain for the past three years and I’m on the precipice of staying put or moving forward. I choose to fly and I’m ready to release the things that no longer serve me while embracing the ones that do.

In this next year of my life I reclaim my youthful wonder at the possibilities of life. I affirm that I have all the time I require to accomplish my dreams and live a fulfilling life. I’m already well on my way!

Happy Birthday to me!

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I see Them. I see You. I see Me. Woman Sees World.

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What Women Say About…

  • How do you the world now versus when you were a child?

S. R., 37 – Tennessee

As a child I was so hopeful. It’s because as a child you don’t know what you don’t know. Everything you’re taught is just a theory. You haven’t actually had a chance to put it into practice. I was taught all these things and I was equipped and empowered to have pretty much what I needed to be a functional adult and then when you get out here and you realize what the world is really like, it can be quite discouraging. I personally think that it shouldn’t be that hard. You try to do the right thing, you operate with integrity, you try to get an education, follow the rules of the land and things of that nature, but yet things seemingly don’t go as planned or as they should. When I look at the things going on around me in the world, I don’t anticipate it getting any better any time soon. A lot of times I see a lot of people getting all caught up in these politicians and what they’re saying and doing and I’m like, “I don’t think it matters who’s in office, we’re still going to be fucked up for a while.”

Now, the only thing that gives me hope is my own capabilities. I’ve gotten to the point where I try not to focus too much on factors that I know I can’t control, I just stay the course based on the things I can control and I can do. I know that I can get up everyday and make sure the actions and commitment that I have, gets me closer to where I want to go. I just keep moving forward.

  • What would you do differently if you could give your younger self some guidance?

B.R., 64 – Louisiana

The old adage: I wish I’d known then what I’d known now, or I wish I had been more assertive, or challenged, not at work or in my career so much as I mean more challenged in someone pushing me to be more. I wish I had pushed myself to be more or I had been more confident to push myself, and at a younger age. I wish I was more cognizant of the fact that I could have been an entrepreneur at 40 or 45 but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I would hate to go back to my 20s but I would go back to my late 30s. If I could arm myself with the knowledge that I had now, it would be quite different, my mindset or even career path. I would have maximized what I did more. Now what I currently do now in my job, I have been very inspired by the women I’ve met.

What was missing when I grew up? I did not have the female mentors. When I was getting into the business world, women were few and far between, I didn’t really have anyone I could talk to about ‘How do I do this?” The women I was working with when I first started working were more in the secretarial field. In the company I worked in, I was the second female to be hired and we were the only two and (thankfully) formed a good bond and became friends. We had to rely on each other more so than we could with the men. It was the oil and gas industry before sexual harassment laws – and it was [a] very different [time].

F. M., 45 – New York

I think the problem with me at 20 years old was that I wanted to control everything. Instead of just letting things unfold, I had to fix it, I had to control it, I had to make it right, even when it couldn’t be. I would tell her to Let It Go. You can’t fix this; you can’t change this; it’s not going to happen. Let it go. Stop losing sleep over it. Stop worrying about it.

At that time, my grandmother used to tell me to pray or worry, but don’t do both. And I always did both. I would pray and ask God to fix it and then I would worry about it anyway.

Worry or pray, but don’t do both. Once you’ve prayed about it then let it go, because if you sit around worrying, you’re telling God you don’t believe he is going to fix it.

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I see Them. I see You. I see Me. Woman Sees World.

Thank you for following the WSW blog.

Follow us on Twitter @womansees and Facebook here.