I have a lot of feeling as I rapidly approach my 40th birthday. On one hand, I feel as though I need to desperately cling to my 30’s – much the same way I felt like I needed to cling to my 20’s as I neared 30. I’m able to look at my life and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. I’m thankful for my health and my career and my children and my husband. I’m very happy with this life I lead.
I can remember when I was younger and plagued with stress and anxiety over what people thought of me. I can remember being nervous that I wouldn’t say the right thing. I desperately wanted to be liked by friends and even family members who I felt never accepted me.
I’d cook and bake. I’d clean my house and roll out the red carpet for them. I would go to great lengths to listen and be agreeable. I would dress the way I thought they wanted me to and make sure my children were presentable.
It wasn’t until the last few years that I started to question myself. Why am I doing this? Why in the world am I stressing myself out just to please someone else?
A Whole New Outlook
There’s something about being almost 40 that has brought me a level of peace I’m not sure I could have reached when I was younger.
I have a very strict policy now: if something or someone no longer serves me, it’s gone. If a situation stresses me out, I remove myself from it. If a person causes me anxiety or upsets my sense of peace, I no longer allow them to be part of my life.
This is always easier in theory than in practice. When it comes to family, particularly, walking away entirely isn’t always possible or may come with consequences that are difficult to manage. But while you may not be able to sever ties completely, there’s a great deal of relief that comes with letting go of the part of yourself that seeks approval. There’s freedom in not forcing yourself to attend events that make you uncomfortable. There’s power in knowing that you remain unapologetically authentic. If being yourself means a look of disapproval or a passive aggressive comment, you know exactly how to handle it.
Because you’re almost 40 – you know how to ignore those whose opinions don’t matter. You’ve had practice putting someone in their place when warranted. You’ve figured out exactly what it means to be a mama bear when someone needs reminding.
So cheers to 40 – you may need a little Botox but you for sure don’t need the weight of others’ expectations!