If you’re anything like me - and I know you are, since you’re reading this with probably a desire to learn something new or work on self-improvement - you know that there is no standing still, there is only moving forward or sliding backwards.
Hopefully, you also already realize that you are worth everything that you’ve ever wanted, or at least wanted to try.
And that you’re not like me, and realized it earlier than your 50th birthday.
Just in the past year do I feel like a lone flower, pushing my way up through a difficult and unexpected spot, to find the sun and realize my potential.
And let me tell you - it’s empowering like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
So let me break this down and just jump to my main point - life is too short to live the same day over and over, and you have a value that cannot be compared to anyone else.
I typically try to address growth and goals from a positive perspective, focusing on what you DO want, as the brain focuses where you send your energy. It hears “don’t,” but what follows that word becomes the actual focus and target, and where the energy goes. But today I want to have a different type of conversation, one that hopefully will bring attention to things that will help you on your journey and make you think about how you DO want to be in your space.
Don’t be like me and let fear or self-doubt get in your way. It’s only been in this past year that I’ve really started to take risks, to push myself, to do things I’d only thought of, but not thinking it would work, or I was good enough. Sure, I’ve overcome challenges in the past, and worked hard to get where I am, but I wasted a lot of time waiting for someone else to give me permission, figuratively or literally, to be me.
If you’re on this same track, or know someone who is, listen closely, take notes, listen again if needed.
Wait until you’re 50 to not only know but accept that you deserve everything you desire. Big and small wishes or dreams, goals or anything else you can think of. If it comes to you, it’s for you. You may need to learn how to manifest it, but you do deserve it.
Wait until you’re 50 to try things that you’ve been thinking of for years. If you have something you want to try, something you want to explore, don’t wait. Even if it’s just the start, maybe starting to research on your topic, or talking to people with knowledge or experience you desire, or starting something small - don’t wait. Take that class. Learn that skill. Plan that trip. I guarantee, even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll learn something. And you’ll also wonder what took you so long to try it.
Wait until the kids have grown up and moved out to put yourself first and chase your dreams. I’m a mom. I understand along with everyone one else, that yes, sometimes things must be done in moderation or slowly because of something as simple as time, and yes, your little ones are only little for so long before they grow up and you don’t want to miss out on anything, and yes, someday sooner than you think you’ll be missing them at the breakfast table, but that doesn’t mean you are restricted from never thinking about - and finding ways to satisfy - your wants and needs.
Be afraid to throw caution to the wind and take risks. That can be anything from your hair color, to getting a new job - or any job! - to changing your style, to changing your career - and even changing a relationship.
Relegate yourself to the 2nd most important person in a relationship. You should be equals. Yes, the balance will shift on even a daily or sometimes an hourly basis depending on needs and circumstances, but in general, you should support each other, and bring to the relationship your full selves. This includes your romantic and non-romantic relationships. Now, I’m not a relationship coach, but I’ve lived through some stuff that I should not have allowed to happen, and it was mostly due to my putting myself second.
Avoid therapy, or at the very least, deep introspection to figure out your own crap. There are two times in my life when I should have been put into or sought out therapy. First was when I was 15 and attempted suicide - my parents brought it up but of course I said no, and they didn’t pursue it, which to this day, I don’t understand. The second was after my divorce. Although then I didn’t seek out therapy, I did spent the next few years, along with my son, learning about myself and seeing things I didn’t like, but I now understand and embrace every part of me as a part of my journey. It was ugly, it was painful, it was exhausting, it was sometimes embarrassing, I went through periods of anger and frustration, but also found the light, and in the end I became someone I am proud of, and the whole experience changed my world and how I live in it.
Let the junk of your past dictate who you are and what you do today or moving forward. Your past made you who you are and brought you to this point, but it has absolutely no power over your future unless you grant it.
Wait until you’re 30 to start considering the idea of not caring about what other people think of you. THAT shift was life-changing for me, and it happened after I became a mother. Suddenly the opinions of others were no more than secondary to my desires. My perspective on life had certainly changed, as it does when a new life is dependent upon you, and yes, I still sought out counsel from my closest friends, but not worrying about or concerning myself with what others, particularly strangers and those not close to me, thought about me, was freeing. And I’m most certainly not encouraging living a life in utter disregard of the feelings and thoughts of others (although you’re only responsible for your actions and not how others respond, but that’s another topic), but you can’t live your life and make life choices and plans according to the opinions of others. They have lives of their own; and, quite frankly, if they have the energy to provide their opinions in such an open, non-supportive or destructive manner, they have their own issues to deal with and it’s not about you! Also, I’ve come to realize that most people are too busy with their own lives to really give your choices a second thought. So push forward and do you.
Stay in any relationship, be it romantic, a friendship, a family connection, a job, or any other commitment, because you think it’s the right thing to do. You should be there because you want to be. Because you want to be a part of and an active participant in it. Don’t stay because of what other people may think, or out of fear of the unknown, or out of some sort of loyalty.
Keep yourself small out of concern for someone else. There may be someone in your life, maybe someone very close to you, who may feel threatened by you if you try to stretch your wings or push yourself as far as you can, on any level, so you may choose, consciously or not, to just…not. Think about it. Is this you? Do you hold yourself back now or have you in the past, or even paused on doing or pursuing something for you, out of concern for the reaction or lack of support from someone else? I did not see that I had this issue until it was too late. Once I started doing things for me - and was succeeding - I was labeled as the problem, as a workaholic, distracted, and that I had “changed.” And it was presented in a negative sense. I was accused of not being there for my son and family, and that my priorities were out of line. Why? Because I was starting to live my life on my terms, and they we neither willing nor able to follow me.
Fear failure or looking silly. This was a big one for me. I grew up a perfectionist for multiple reasons, and quite frankly I sometimes still have to overcome it, but I’ve gotten so much better, and I’m so much happier for it. I’ve learned that failure is just learning a way that doesn’t work for you. And it also means that you’re trying. Looking silly just helps you not take life so seriously. And not only will you be setting an example for others and inspiring them to just go for it, too, you’ll enjoy life a little more than you did before. And let’s face it, doing something funny that embarrasses your kids is just a bonus, don’t you think?
Avoid conflict or asking tough questions. When you turn your head at the sight of conflict, what happens? It gets worse. Learn how to nip it. Yes, it can sometimes take a little finessing to broach the subject without causing another world war, but even if you’re not sure how to do that yet, don’t back down and don’t turn away. When you take the lead and become more comfortable with addressing the so-called elephant in the room, people will learn to trust you, to know that you are honest and transparent and supportive and trustworthy. If you need to ask a sensitive question or think you misunderstand something, speak up! There is too much left unsaid between people, causing hurt feelings, lost time, broken relationships, and a myriad of other problems. Fix it. But…let me add, if you have done all you can to try and solve the problem or conflict, and I mean you feel in your soul that you’ve made the best effort you can make and have nothing left to give, and the other party simply will not accept accountability or any responsibility for their part, it’s perfectly ok to walk away.
Let anyone else tell you how you to feel, how to react, or what you want. This includes parents, significant others, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, bosses…anyone. Your feelings are yours, they are valid, no matter the circumstance. You are allowed to feel what you are feeling, be it happy, sad, depressed, angry, confused, surprised…anything. No one else has the right to dictate to you how you feel. Yes, there are behaviors that are socially acceptable in certain settings, but if you’re angry or upset when someone else is expecting you to find something funny or feel happy about it, it’s not up to them. Let me try to give you an example to help clarify this. As a young girl and even a young woman, I was expected to, unless I was smiling, to keep my feelings and expressions and emotions to myself, to not be demonstrative of how I was feeling in any setting, particularly if I disagreed or felt any emotion other than happiness. I was literally discouraged from showing any outward emotion unless it was sweet and quiet. Then, when I was presented with a gift, birthday or other, if I didn’t respond with a resounding excitement, or if I found myself genuinely shocked - I’m sure you’ve experienced this, an expensive or dreamy gift you could have never expected - I got reprimanded for not showing emotion. To keep explaining, I was not allowed to disagree with certain people in my life without being punished in some way - no respectful discussions, no sharing of ideas, heated or not - I was just wrong, and it was my duty to be the happy one, to make everyone else feel at peace. The result is that I spend the first 40 years of my life suppressed under the belief that my opinions and feelings didn’t count, that they were unworthy of sharing, and it was my job to make everyone else happy. That belief and practice stopped when my son was old enough to express a conflicting opinion or get angry over something. I allowed him to feel what he was feeling, respectfully of course, but I was always there to listen. And you know what? By listening to him, I learned from him. My eyes were sometimes opened to a thought or opinion that I hadn’t yet considered. And by allowing open discussions, he learned, and expanded his knowledge and ways to handle situations that his junior brain had not yet had a chance to think of. And if he still didn’t agree or change his mind? It was ok. And he knew it. And as a result, he was always open and willing to bring his problems to me for what he knew would be an open and honest discussion. Sometimes too open!
I am now 51 years old. I have lived the majority of my life under the impression that my purpose was to serve others and make sure they were happy. I know now that view is twisted, and I now spend my energy and time guiding others to find their own ways through to the light.
Has anything I said today resonated with you? Do you find yourself restricted by others, or have you found your strength, or maybe even always had it, to live life on your terms? Are you reminded of anyone with these struggles? If it is you, I promise you that there is a way out.
Don’t be like me.