I have never been afraid of aging. I am blessed with great genes. My grandmother passed away in her eighties with the smoothest skin one can imagine on someone of her age and my mother often confuses people when she doesn’t meet their expectation of what a woman her age should look like. What I didn’t bargain for is the clarity and peace of conscience that has come my way, as I have gotten older. Here are a few things I enjoy knowing, as I enter this stage of my life:
· I cannot please everyone, all the time. I want to. It is the greatest pleasure of my life to bring joy to others, but it is not possible. For one thing, if I were even able to do that, I would have to compromise at least some of my own convictions and therefore I would be a hypocrite. For another, I cannot take on the task of satisfying other people’s expectations, some of which may be totally unreasonable; neither can I live another person’s tests. All I can do is my best; to be kind, loving and compassionate, to listen and offer a helping hand.
· Perfection is an unattainable destination, whereas, pursuing excellence is an exciting journey. Striving for perfection causes anxiety and saps the energies required for moving forward, not just in me but in those around me as well. It is such a burden to others when in the name of perfection I see the small defects and overlook the important big things in life. But always trying to do my best, however short of target I may fall, and doing a little bit better each day, motivates me to show up and gives hope to me and to others.
· Women can have it all, but maybe not all at the same time. I have had two careers so far, and enjoyed a fifteen-year stint as the mother of four, without having to work for pay. It is never too late to start learning something new. After a lifetime of keeping my nose in a book on a couch, I started running a little over two years ago. I can now run up to six miles, and am hoping to someday soon run a half marathon. I am definitely not competing with anyone except my own personal best.
· It is important to be conscious of the present in order to improve the future. The real joy is experiencing this moment, with the family, at work or while serving others, without any expectations. I raced through my youth, trying to do everything as quickly as possible. I don’t regret anything, but I wish I had taken the time to enjoy the moments, and not been anxious to move on to the next thing. Education, learning, life; these are not things to try and get them over with, but to savor and use as fuel to make every day a little better than the day before.
There are no short cuts in life and we learn what we have to learn when we have to learn it. But, you don’t have to wait to be fifty to start enjoying these perks.