I hit a milestone this year: I turned 40. Since it’s my 40th birthday – I’ve officially joined the Over-40 Club! I don’t understand why people dread this. I didn’t understand it at 30 either. I’ve always looked forward to turning 40.
ALSO OF NOTE: Mini also started high school this week. Two huge milestones within days of each other.
Hmmmm.. yeah, I did NOT plan that very well. HA!
Birthdays are a chance to reflect. Well, I think they are.
Let’s take a look at some lessons I’ve learned:
Here’s something you might now know about me: at the age of 17, I had a suicide attempt. Since I couldn’t promise not to do it again, my parents and therapist decided I needed treatment. I spent two weeks in a mental hospital and two weeks in an outpatient partial hospitalization program.
Why am I telling you this now?
I think it matters.
I’m not going to sit here and pepper you with “it gets better” platitudes. I will suggest finding happiness where you can. My morning cup of protein coffee make me happy. My work makes me happy.
Do I still get depressed? Yes. Even with my happiness with turning 40, I’m not going to lie and say everything is all rosy and fantastic and life is a box of puppies wrapped in a soft blankie.
Life is a struggle and I know those of you who struggle with it don’t need pity or anecdotes. You need community and compassion.
I have a list of resources for anyone who needs help and community at the bottom of this post. Make sure you check that out!
When I was 17, I didn’t think I would even see my 40th birthday. Sitting here typing this fills me with emotion. I can’t believe it’s been almost 23 years since I sat in a group telling everyone I didn’t care if I lived or died.
Now I try to live my life in a more meaningful way, sharing stories and spending as much time as I can with the ones I love the most.
There have been a few changes in my life in the past year and this year promises to be no different. The majority of the changes have been positive and I’m grateful some things have gone my way.
Removing people from my life has always been agonizing for me. It messes up my routine, whether good or bad. It has to do with a deep-seated fear of being abandoned. I don’t want anyone to feel that level of pain, so I tend to let others overstay their welcome in my life.
Thanks to the love and support of my online community, I have found the strength to move on from people who I just don’t need to be in my life anymore. As agonizing as it was, I knew it was time and I will be better off in the long run for it.
I’ve mourned the loss of some people, but felt relief at the loss of others. There isn’t room in my life for people who only “need” me when it’s convenient to them and proceed to disappear when I need help. I hope my 40th birthday will be the death of my chronic people-pleasing and I will not allow myself to be used again.
The future is uncertain. We’ve always known that. No matter what we are going through, we can’t take it out on others. We’re responsible for our own happiness. It’s ridiculous that it took turning 40 to finally get that through my head!
There are always going to be negative people who make it their mission in life to make people as miserable as they are, but I have felt the support of people who truly want me to do well.. and I’m going to stick with them.
I have found that faith, family, work and a general resolve to spread positivity where I can is what keeps me going. I have a natural (some may jokingly call it chronic) inclination to help people. The truth is: I feel that helping people is my calling. It’s what lights me up and what led me to revamp this site with resources to help others start their work at home journey.
One thing that has become more important over time is backing up words with effort. Everyone loves to say they will help or do something, but how many actually show up when it’s time?
Simply put: I think words are useless without action.
As I’m rediscovering who I truly am, I learn that a lot of values I held weren’t mine, they were a result of those who I was surrounding myself with. Some “close” to me have noticed the changes, others haven’t.
I used to clamor to be liked. It upset me if people hated me for no reason, but I learned I can’t control how others see me. I can’t control how others speak about me.
One thing Mini and I talk about is reputation. The people who run their mouths the most are usually just trying to hide their own inadequacies. Instead of wanting more for themselves, they need to bring everyone down to their level.
As W.C. Fields said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” Let people talk about you. It’s their problem, not yours.
Seeing another year (turning 40 means a new decade too) fills me with gratitude. I thank God I’m still here and I’ve been blessed (although I’m not a fan of that word unless it’s being used ironically) with a daughter that’s just incredible.
My biological Mother passed at 47 and the closer I get to that age, the more aware I am of just how young she was.
I feel if God has bestowed another year of life to me that he must have a plan for me. For the time being, I’m looking forward to figuring out what that plan is.
For Your Information
Here are some questions I asked myself before I started this post:
Do you reflect on your birthday or just treat it as any other day? Are your reflections any different when you hit a “milestone” birthday?
Tell me in the comments!