In 5 months I will turn 39.
In some ways this is more significant to me that turning 40. I am not one to become melancholy about birthdays or wrap my identity up in an age, but 39 is resonating with me on many levels. I had always heard your 20’s are the most formative years in your life, but they were not for me. I was too distracted with what I was not to focus on who I already was. By great contrast, my 30’s have forced me to let go, gain perspective and make peace with myself.
My 30’s brought me both my children and with them a new role to fill as a mother. It bought me away from a city I had lived in since I was 3 and to a new place that has shown me what I am made of. I have seen 3 of my 4 grandparents pass aways in my 30’s. I have learned to support friends as they have ended marriages, lost parents and learned that their children are very sick.
As I am closing in on the last year of this decade, I am deeply appreciative for the lessons it has brought me. It might seem silly to say one year of your life counts more than another, but I see 39 as an opportunity to scoop up all the wisdom I have gained this far and carry it with me into 40. It is a chance to start a new decade with a new perspective and leave all the unnecessary junk behind.
These are the 3 big lessons I plan to bring with me on the journey of 40:
1. Every time you let something go, you actually gain more.
So many times in life I have clung tightly to something that led to nowhere: how others perceive me, what will happen in the future, fear, regret, grudges, hurtful memories. Stewing over things I have little to no control over has consumed approximately 60% of my precious time. It is an insidious, subconscious obsession that will leach the joy from your heart. So I have learned to let it go. It takes practice and it’s hard but it is the only way gain the most glorious reward: freedom. It’s too much to carry. Let it go.
2. Respect the privilege of still being here.
Learning to be appreciative of my days on earth has grounded me in a way I have never experienced before. I am someone who has a tendency to live in the future -and not in the cool, riding on hover boards and owning my own housekeeper robot way. I have a bad habit of waiting for the next thing to fulfill my happiness, telling myself that I am happy but I will be even happier when x, y & z happens. This is a nasty distraction from the present; thinking the next great thing is around the corner, when the great things are actually happening right this moment.
3. Authenticity trumps conforming.
So much of my 20’s was wasted on trying to keep up with everyone else. There were nudges and aches to do the things I wanted deep inside, but I pushed them down to stay safe. I pushed the thoughts away so I could keep up with what my friends were doing, because it seemed like the easier way and it would please my parents. So I didn’t take the risks that would fulfill these aspirations. I didn’t stay true to myself and chase down dreams. I kept seeking things bigger than my small world was capable of producing, which left me in a perpetual state of disappointment, feeling like a failure. My 30’s have shown me that for some things, it is too late, and I need to make peace with that. But there are new dreams to fulfill and this time around, I will not allow the opportunities to slip away. I have learned to live in harmony with my authenticity instead of fighting against it.
Staring down the final year of my 30’s, I am comforted that there is still so much to be gained: more lessons to learn, more wisdom to gain. As my birthday approaches, I am considering one big question for my 39th year. Now matter your age, I hope you consider the same.
How will you make this year count?