I’m happy to be in my 40s.
Although my husband might disagree since my “level” of happiness can vary day to day depending on kid’s moods (and the amount of salt I’m retaining), there’s a sense of okay-ness that blankets my outlook.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love to have that 20-something figure and the boundless energy of my teens, but there’s a certain comfort and contentment that happens as you approach middle-age that quells the inner critic and silences the worries. I still fret, I still complain, and I still have moments of complete frustration, but the difference is now I expect them, I deal with them, and I move on—a skill that took me two decades to learn.
Much of my 20s and 30s were spent confused and anxious about the future, wondering where my career would take me, and figuring out where I fit in the whole scheme of things. I certainly had my share of fun during those tumultuous years—college life, traveling, living on my own for the first time, countless adventures, and meeting my husband—but I wouldn’t necessarily say I was happy in my own skin. I often felt awkward. I was uninterested in most of my job choices though I felt compelled to give it my all since that’s what it meant to “succeed.”
I would describe those years as feeling stuck.
Now that I’m older (and supposedly wiser), I see now that I was ignoring my true passions (writing, art, teaching) and, instead, doing what I believed was necessary to seem happy. I was actually doing what I told myself I would never do…settle.
Yes, we all need to sustain ourselves through work, a reality that cannot be ignored, but that doesn’t mean we should neglect those things that ignite passion and joy. I often did, in order to avoid confrontation and bypass failure, and I often found myself lost.
Having experienced some major difficulties and deep losses, I’ve learned that perspective is what gets you through. Quieting the fear and listening to hope makes such difficult moments bearable. I’ve learned I can’t hide from the hard times. It’s just the way it is. But, I can choose the ferocity with which I let them affect me. I can decide take each moment as a good one instead of worrying if tragedy will appear.
I can decide hope is a much better outlook.
Even with all the responsibilities that come with parenting, marriage, life transitions, and career changes, I feel like I’m where I need to be. I know that when the bumps in the road appear, I can handle it. I know I’ve got this.
It’s just life, after all.
Amy Cushing is a stay-at-home mom, yoga teacher, and writer who is bravely navigating the waters of parenting with her ever-patient husband and two small tots who run the asylum. She writes for elephant journal and also gives her two cents on her website. Connect with Amy via Facebook or Twitter.
Photo: Laura Manning via Flickr