Let me show you around...
I have a few friends who have just turned 40 in recent months, and since I got there several months before them, I decided to do a little tour for them!! (I wish I knew how to insert emoticons into blog posts – one is needed right about here!)
I should however start with a disclaimer. If you are concerned that this blog post will be filled with clichés, then I should tell you - there may be one or two. Why? Because there is always a little bit of truth in clichés, but more importantly, because a big part of how we feel about our lives is based around expectations, and how closely we feel like we meet them, and I find that sometimes our very expectations sound like some old time clichés (whether we are aware of it or not!) The reality is that as an adult I have found that the older I get the more my expectations come into play – and in some cases I wasn’t even aware I had them.
Classic example – I spent the afternoon doing some budgeting, and I was left with the distinct feeling that – despite the fact that I am 40 – I have no idea what I am doing, in contrast to feeling like I should have life all figured out. And this is the first cliché and probably the most dangerous that most of us hold in the back of our minds even if we have never admitted it out loud (or written a blog post about it) – that you should have life figured out by now.
There are a number of age milestones that seem to be of varying significance in our lives and in our culture. A few examples : 10, 16, 18, 21, 30 and 40 (at least these are the ones I have hit so far.) When children hit developmental milestones, there is a generalized acceptance of what skills and abilities they should have by these ages. I have come to realize that this also exists for adults, and although few of us admit it, sometimes we carry the internal pressure or the weight of expectation about where we should be by certain points in our lives. I can remember turning 30 and my manager at work at the time asked me if I thought it was time to grow up yet. In the spirit of full disclosure – I said no… And I absolutely didn’t think it was time. But I will say that by the time I hit 40 I definitely felt like I should be a “proper grown up”, and I know I am not the only one. Whether we know it or not, we have all types of ideas about what a proper grown-up should look like. These might include – house… spouse… 2.2kids and a dog… VP position in our company (or higher)… Owning your own business… It could be any or all of those things (or a variety of others) but one thing I found when I was talking to my friends who approached this age was that almost none of us felt as if we were where we should be.
On top of that, we may have new issues to deal with such as ageing parents, the worry of health issues, and a feeling of being just about too old to change things – even if we finally feel as if we are starting to understand what is truly important to us! I had a crazy thought a few months ago – I made a career decision when I was 18 about how I was going to spend the biggest part of my life, when I had no idea what was important to me, no clue about my values, and actually no idea what life in that career would even entail. And I am not sure that if I had received that information at the age of 18 that it would have meant anything to me, or changed how I made that decision, or the decision that I made! Now that I feel as if I am starting to be able to answer those questions, it feels a million times harder to make life changes! They say youth is wasted on the young….. (the second cliché, and one I happen to think of frequently – especially when I see the amount of energy my now 4 year old nephew has).
So I am going to tell you the secrets I discovered when I finally crossed the “40” line – no-one has it all figured out, so don’t beat yourself up. For me, now that I have a better idea of what is important to me, I try to incorporate more of that into my life. One of the advantages I found is that as I hit this age, I became more comfortable with having my values and opinions, and was less concerned what other people think. This has also made it easy for me to begin to remove from my life the things that seem less important, or that I was doing out of obligation and to say more yeses to those things that I valued. And lastly, think of this new decade as a new home – one that is more spacious and that you can decorate yourself with your favourite things. Like with any knew home, we need to figure out where everything is, all the light switches etc, and there is a certain amount of settling in to do. We need to decide if all of the old things that we brought from our previous home have a place in this new one, or if we are going to lovingly part with them in favour of less clutter and more space. In truth, I have always found those things to be easier with a friend so here I am for you! Let us figure this out together, and have some laughs along the way.
Before I sign off, the above photo was taken on a recent photo trip I took where I made a short 2 minute video about this small island (for which I have such big love!). I like the photo for this post because I feel like 40 can feel like a crossroads, and to show that we still have lots of options of where we want to go. I made the video for a competition which I am pretty sure I didn't win, although I really enjoyed the project. It was a real step out of my comfort zone though! Click here if you want to check it out!
Big love from a small island!