Fearlessly Facing 40
It’s here. A new season in my life. Break out black balloons and “Over the Hill” banners, I am 40.
With all the talk of “40 is the new 20” I would like to say that is the mindset I am going to face this season with. But, it’s not.
I keep waiting for the coming of my mid-life crisis. It’s got to be right around the corner, right? But, it’s not.
So many assume that it is a day shrouded in sadness. The ending of youth. Here’s the thing, it’s not.
If 40 is not any of these things, then what is it?
An incredibly wise group of women recently shared with me that 40 is freedom! It is the season of accepting one’s self for who they are. That sounds dreamy to me. For so much of my twenties and thirties I have been weighted down by judgement.
Judgement about my kids, my job, my house, my pets, my hobbies, my strengths, my weaknesses, my music, my God, my weight, my crazy mood swings, my ability to lead, my ability to follow, my loud voice, my cackling laugh, my whole self.
Judgement of me.
It didn’t matter who was (or more likely, wasn’t) judging any of these things. My insecurities gave voice and weight to those judgements even if they were a figment of my imagination.
I have resolved to make a concerted effort to blow off the judgement. Those of you who know me really well know what a challenge it will be for me. I am a people pleaser, always have been. That natural tendency instilled a habit of anticipating what others’ will think before they even have a chance to think it. (Ahem, control issue, perhaps?)
I know I am not alone in this tendency to think the worst, for me it is like a strong sheath of body armor. If I anticipate the worst case scenarios, I can avoid them at all costs. It’s a human tendency which takes great effort and, let’s face it, I don’t have the energy to waste on it any longer.
It would be foolish to think I could avoid worrying about what others think completely. After all, my close circle of people is vital to me and I trust them completely. They will be straight with me. They will tell me how it is and I will accept their advice and counsel. It is the judgement of those outside my circle that needs to be quieted in this new season.
My goal is to worry LESS about the judgement of those whose voices shouldn’t hold weight.
Knowing that it takes a really long time to break bad habits, I guess I am in it for the long haul. Amy tells me it will take at least a decade. Doesn’t she remember how impatient I am?
So, I will be patient and diligent in my quest. Check back when I am 50 and I will let you know how it is going.
Meanwhile, I have laid out some conscious steps I will take to worry less about the judgement of others:
1. Create a new mantra
I assure you that if someone smarter than me did a study on the amount of time I have spent on worrying about what others think, it would be shockingly depressing. To avoid that type of thinking, I am going to TRY to say to myself, “The most radical thing you can be is yourself” in those moments. Isn’t that rad? (Little 80’s humor for you there).
2. Be conscious of my mindset
Getting stuck in pessimistic thinking is like a drug. So, it is time for detox. I know when I am in “that place”. I get in moods where I might as well wear a name tag that says “Debbie Downer”. As often as I can I will rip that name tag off.
3. Treat myself with GRACE
I am my own worst critic. I doubt anyone is more critical of me than me. So, time to open a can of whoop-a$@ and cut it out. Grace is forgiving, generous and kind. My husband and kids show me grace on a regular basis. They don’t hold grudges, they are adoring and generous with compliments and forgive me before I even ask for forgiveness. I know I do the same for them. Why not distribute that same grace on myself? It won’t be easy, but I can at least try.
No matter what season of life you are in, I wish you would join me in these efforts. The “Over the Hill” banner on my yard this year is going to read “OVER IT” instead. I am over the sharp criticism I dole out liberally to myself based on the perceived judgement of others.
40 is going to be GREAT!