After graduating from college, when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, I remember having a pretty exact idea of what life would look like in my 30s and 40s.
Yes, I realize the irony. I couldn’t figure out what to do with the next month, let alone year of my life, but I was pretty confident in what things would look like in 10 or 20 years.
Isn’t that sweet? It’s funny now to look back and realize how naive I was.
You’ve probably already guessed it . . . I was so very wrong about what my future would hold.
Example #1: I was never, ever coming back to my hometown of Fort Worth. Hmmm, clearly wrong there. After graduating from college in San Antonio, I moved back to Fort Worth more than 15 years ago with no plans of EVER LEAVING. EVER.
Example #2: As for my predictions of family life, I would be married with children by my late 20s or early 30s. Hmm, how about divorced with no kids by age 30? Yep, wrong again.
Example #3: I would have a high-paying job in my early 30s, making a lot of money in order to buy whatever I wanted, take fancy trips, and drive a fancy car. Clearly my college counselor forgot to inform me that marketing majors, unless they become chief marketing officers, don’t typically make the six figures that I had imagined.
In all honesty, my 20s and 30s were rough. I have many fond memories, had some great jobs, took some fun trips, and met some incredible people, but I still wasn’t really sure who I was or who I wanted to be. I tended to morph into whatever set of friends I had at the time. I was definitely lacking in self confidence and hadn’t found the true happiness I thought I should have found by then.
It wasn’t until my mid 30s that things started coming together. I met (again) the man of my dreams, got married, and had a beautiful baby girl.
And now that I just turned 40, I can confidently say that I’m truly happy.
I’m comfortable in my own skin.
And while I don’t have the life I dreamed about so many years ago, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, I wouldn’t reject a winning lottery ticket, but you get the picture.
So, want to know the secret that turning 40 has taught me?
Acceptance that I may not ever hit my pre-wedding weight again, so I’ve thrown away those “if I could just lose X amount of pounds” clothes.
Acceptance that the life that I envisioned 15 years ago is not the life I have now, and that’s okay.
Acceptance that our social life is kinda boring, and that it’s okay to enjoy spending most weekend nights on the couch.
Acceptance that I am who I am, and anyone who doesn’t like it, well, they can just get over it.
Acceptance that I don’t have to make everyone happy, just the people that I love and truly care about.
I hope you’re not thinking that I’ve given up, settled, and/or accepted a less-than-exceptional life. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I consider my life truly exceptional, but I’m also extremely realistic.
I’ve given up the fictional version of my life and learned to accept myself, my life and my reality. And guess what? That feeling is more freeing than you’d ever believe . . . unless you give it a try for yourself!
I’m not saying give up on your dreams. Aim for the stars, but it’s life’s imperfections and hiccups along the way make your life truly your own.
Own them, accept them, and celebrate them!