I turn forty today. I guess that means something sort of. I’ve never really paid much attention to age after I achieved all those childhood milestones that were attached to gaining more freedom. Those mattered. As an adult, birthdays have been fun and an annual excuse to celebrate with friends, but the numbers really never meant much. Forty has felt different. In the last few weeks, I’ve felt it coming. Questions have crept into my mind. Is this really my life? Is this all I’ve done? I thought it would be different, more, better. Self doubt crept in as I watched this number approaching.
Adulting is hard. I mean, I have an amazing life and I am full to the brim with gratitude for all the incredible people and experiences I’ve known throughout my years. These questions are about ME. Have I done enough? Have I accomplished all I could have? Have a I met my own expectations? Oh, those damn personal expectations. They are the worst. The truth is, no. I’ve never really met my own expectations.
The gift in what I am learning now, is that I never will . At least not in the ways I expected when I was younger. I know things now I didn’t know then. Those expectations were like carrots on a stick, moving targets, unattainable goals; always creeping just out of reach as I focused in on my next mission and downplayed smaller daily accomplishments. I never could have been good enough for that me.
The problem is that girl who wanted to save the world is still in here. And she thought she could make life go a certain way if she was just “xyz” (you fill in the blank) enough. And even though it was effing exhausting and downright impossible, at least it was a clear direction to go in.
Now here I am, in the middle of my life, with absolute confidence in my (and everyone else’s) inherent worth, knowing unequivocally that the very best way to serve the world is to let myself be led by what brings me the most joy and satisfaction. And for some weird reason, I still find it a little hard to do that some days. I’m getting better at it though, and I’ve decided that 40 will be my best year yet. Because they all have been. And because I really have made so much progress.
I have nothing to prove and no expectations beyond a general intention to be kind to myself and others, to savor every drop of goodness in my life, and to create relationships and experiences that make me (and hopefully others) laugh and smile. I don’t have to save the world because I can’t. None of us can.
I can and will do my part to create a more beautiful and delightful world. I will love myself first and love others because it’s fun and that’s who I am. I will be young at heart forever and welcome the gifts of age. I will cherish every moment I get to spend exploring the incredible intensity, diversity, and joy of this beautiful planet.
I will travel, learn more languages, and laugh until I cry, or pee, or both. I will let myself be anchored by powerful, amazing women, and men, and friendships that endure the ages. I will marvel and appreciate all the ways life bends and contorts to surprise and delight ME.
I give up the struggle. I surrender the worry. I am enough. Always enough. More than enough.