I stare in the mirror. I will turn 40 soon. I have more than half a life left, if my relatives are any indication of my longevity.
What the heck am I going to do with it?
This is what I ask myself as I stare in the mirror. As I see the wrinkles forming on either side of my eyes and nose. The slight gray in the blond streaks of hair. The tired puffy eyes.
What is next?
One of the people I follow on twitter recently wrote of times in her college life when a professor etc. questioned her ability to be in the program, and how she ignored those doubts, going on to graduate with honors.
The replies to her tweet are more of the same.
They are lovely.
They make me feel terrible about myself.
I have written about this in the past, but I am revisiting again because this theme really bothers me. I have spent, well, all of my life listening to those doubters and changing my plans in response. Or, more importantly, turning away from something because it was hard.
There is a book I read recently, or maybe it was an article, in which the author talks about this culture of “Path” and “Purpose” and how it has caused people to quit before they maybe should have; i.e. instead of persevering they think, “eh, it’s hard, so must be a sign that I am not on the right path.”
I unequivocally believe that this idea of “Path” and “Purpose” has caused serious, life-altering (not in a good way) decisions not only for me but for countless others.
So much missed opportunity because I just didn’t put in the effort.
And then you have these other people. People who were faced with really hard challenges (like organic chemistry, or learning difficulties or you know… cancer) and who were told to their faces that they would fail. Yet they kept at it. Not giving up.
I know that it helps absolutely no one to go back and think “if only…”
If only I had ignored my physics and math teachers in high school.
If only I had tried and not given up in… well shit, really, fill in the blank and I’ve likely given up on it.
If only I’d had a little more spine, a lot more guts, and some gumption.
But as I said, the “if only” phrase doesn’t help, other than perhaps as a learning moment, which is where we are now.
Friends, I stare in the mirror, almost 40, wondering what the heck I am doing and where I am going. The feeling of being completely lost is familiar to me. Most of my life I’ve had these moments. Sometimes they last years, sometimes only weeks, but they are terribly normal.
But I am lost in a new way this time. Or at least it feels like a new way.
Because maybe I spent the last 40 years not trying, of running away from challenges, of skating through life… but what if I should take a 180 degrees turn and take the next 40 years doing the complete opposite.
What would that look like?
What about you, dear readers? Are there moments that you look back at and think: I should have tried harder. I should have pushed more.
Do you have regrets and “if only” moments?
And if so, what do you do about them?
Until next time, may your path follow a straight line, at least for long enough to catch a breath. Love.