April 27, 2015

What I still haven't learned in my 40s

In about four months, I plan to embark upon middle age-dom. Lately, I've tortured myself by reading articles decorated with sage words about lessons learned, and how all of life's moments string together, culminating a larger understanding of self. That it's those very important lessons that eventually lead to a peaceful and beautiful plateau called the 40s. Sometimes I want to punch my laptop. Is anyone doing that great––all the time?

Those type of articles force me think about all of the things I still haven't learned in my 40s. Am I supposed to know this stuff? And like, practice it every day? Because most days I want to run away to a small town and not tell anyone where I'm going. Kind of like Julia Roberts in "Sleeping with the Enemy" only I don't want a boyfriend because that just seems like a lot of work. And there are days when I think maybe I should move back home with my parents. But since I already did that when I turned 30, I might've used up all my "move back home with parents" cards. 

Other days I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and fix the mistakes my younger self made. That way maybe this current self would be sitting on a mountaintop, soaking in God's beauty, singing songs of praise, rather than wondering how much money I need to save to not go back to work for another couple of months. I'm actually surprised nobody has figured out how to do this yet. How is it that we can send a selfie through space and into millions of phones, but we can't figure out how to go back in time?

There are days when I'm totally cool with my life and absolutely grateful for the blessings. Then I'll get on Facebook and the old feelings of insecurity, jealousy and rejection crop up––just like in high school. I mean, look at all of these fancy people visiting exotic places, going to parties that I'm not invited to, eating food I don't eat and taking pictures of their pretty feet next to a poolside margarita that I can't drink because I had to stop doing that ten years ago. Also, I have ugly feet so this last one really gets to me.

The other thing I'm still clueless about is my career. The decision I made in my early twenties was exciting at the time because I had a lot more energy and tolerance. When you're twenty-one you can run around all day, come up with fresh ideas, drink all afternoon and still get up the next day to perform tasks. But twenty-four years later, I'm still freelancing in that industry, while simultaneously trying to figure out how to sell millions of books. And I'm tired. Like my back-hurts-all-the-time tired.

It doesn't help that with every freelance gig the people keep getting younger and way hotter. They look at me like, who's this old lady and why is she telling me what to do? When I'm in the midst of hunting down someone for a meeting, who refuses to go until that other person is in the room, I think to myself: what have I done wrong and should I get a job as a security guard, where I don't have to talk to people?

I see my friends with kids and my head explodes. How do these people juggle eight-hundred things at once and still manage to take my calls? I can't comprehend that level of exhaustion. It's admirable. And though they might be exhausted now, they made the smartest investment. When they're old and sitting in their retirement homes, at least they'll have someone to bring them their soup. I'll probably be holed up in some crappy facility with only albums of my Boston Terriers keeping me company.

Maybe I'm the outlier and most of you in your 40s (or younger) have learned a bunch of amazing things about life, and you're crushing it on a daily basis. Or maybe you're like me and the one thing you know is there's a lot of stuff you still don't know. But isn't that the point of life––to keep searching and growing? To continue developing loving relationships with ourselves and others––even when that seems impossible?

The most important lesson I keep bumping up against is acceptance. That it's okay to still be messy in my 40s. I'll probably still be messy in my 50s, and most likely well into my 60s. I think by my 90s I'll be right where I'm supposed to be. Looking back on my life and smiling about all of it. Every single moment––the good and the bad.

Keep writing. It saves lives.