Does it take a lifetime to become authentic?
How many years of your life have you spent trying to please others?
As I talk about far too often, this is an interesting time of life for me. Kind of like an older, less energetic adolescence. Lots of swirling thoughts and processes.
It’s a time for reflection, for sure. One real advantage of aging is being able to look back at the younger me with love and compassion.
At the times, during the doing, I was awfully hard on myself. I had to be a great wife, stellar mother, model career woman, prolific author, blah, blah, blah, blah.
When things didn’t go well or smoothly, I was so quick to find fault with myself and to condemn. Many days I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, much less multi-task at life.
On the other side of crises is perspective. The flip side of self-criticism is acceptance.
I can look back and see where each phase filled with crap led to growth. Each hard time made me deeper and stronger. Each precipice of disaster led to greater faith.
When I recall the missteps and disasters, I can see that I was doing the best I could. The today-me would reach back and give the yesterday-me a great big hug and tell her she was just fine. I recall some therapist telling me that viewing myself with compassion, rather than the disgust I had become so accustomed to, was the hallmark of healing and something the shrinks call integration. For me, older = integrated. What a blessing.
Today I’m the updated, down-sized, dog-earred best version of myself. The shine of the paint has faded, but the well-cared for engine runs steady and strong.
Part if it is that there are so many things I just don’t care about anymore. I don’t care what people think about me. I want people to read what I write, but if they don’t agree with it I’m really OK with it. The freedom to express and live as myself is so valuable that these things don’t matter.
Getting older is getting better at being yourself.
Not there yet. That’s OK.
Just for today, give yourself a big hug and tell yourself everything will be just fine.