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39 Years of Reflection on the Eve of My Birthday

39 Years of Reflection on the Eve of My Birthday

Tomorrow is my 39th birthday. Yep, I’m one year closer to 40. And while I should be planning a mid-life crisis, I’m too busy celebrating another year of wisdom gained. Here’s why 39 feels so good.

I tend to be a people-pleaser by nature. I generally don’t like to rock the boat, cause a stir or share an unpopular opinion. I’m a rule-follower and a safe-player. These character traits let me live my life quietly on the fringe, and my agreeable attitude has made it easy to keep people happy. But I just wrapped up my first full year as a new mom, and I’ve noticed my people-pleasing ways are falling by the wayside.

Suddenly I’m required to use my voice to advocate for my son. I receive lots of unsolicited advice on how to parent and kindly disregard most of it. Because even though I’m a novice, I have a clear vision of how I want to raise my son and I’m confident that I know what’s best for him. He’s helping me find my voice, and I no longer feel the need to justify my life choices or take the popular stance. The last 18 months of motherhood have no doubt morphed my brain, my thoughts and my actions. I’m feeling more self-assured at 39 than I ever have.

Yes, it may sound harsh, but I have no trouble closing doors on relationships that aren’t enriching my life. Mostly because my time is limited and I’d rather have a small circle of reliable, supportive people than an overabundance of fairweather acquaintances to keep track of. There are some relationships I’ve just outgrown, and that’s okay.

My life at 39 looks a lot different than my life at 22. I’ve moved across an ocean, had multiple jobs and collected lots of new experiences that have influenced my thinking and made me reevaluate the kind of people that I want in my life.

When I was in college, my credit cards were maxed out. I graduated with major debt. With every move I made for my job, I was increasingly frustrated and anxious about all the junk I had accumulated. Packing up every three years became my hell.

So I slowly began downsizing (before KonMari was even on the radar). I’m still working on my pursuit of a minimal lifestyle; but at 39, I’ve finally learned that freedom comes when you can unload the non-essential stuff filling your closets and your mind.

I’m a pretty mellow person (thanks genes), but I’ve found that my chill factor continues to rise with each passing year. At a recent physical, my doctor commented on my low heart rate. “You must work out a lot!” he exclaimed. Nope. I’m just relaxed and overall pretty content with things.

With 39 years of BS under my belt, I’ve learned to let things go. Because most of it is out of my control anyway, so why worry? If someone pushes the boundaries of a relationship? Fine. Move on. An erratic driver cuts me off in traffic? Okay. I’ll never see him again anyway. Lose a job? No worries. There’s a better one on the horizon. Life’s pretty manageable when you focus on finding solutions within your control versus ruminating over everyone or everything that’s done you wrong.

As the years tick by, I’m more aware of how quickly time passes. Tomorrow my baby will say another new word that he didn’t know today. Next week I may not have the opportunity to give my 92-year old grandma a call. At this time next year, I might be leaving the Florida sunshine behind for a new city.

So I make an effort to be more mindful of what’s happening around me, and I don’t take for granted that circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. When you’re 22 life seems absolute. Your parents will always be there. You don’t even consider that the good times might end. As I sit here, on the eve of my 39th birthday, I’m grateful for all the ups and downs life has handed me. Instead of having that mid-life crisis, I look forward to what the next 39 years has in store — because I know there are still lessons to be learned.

39 Years of Reflection on the Eve of My Birthday

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