Another year has come and gone and I’m grateful for the opportunity to take another orbital spin around the sun. Time passes a lot faster these days then I wish it would, still, I’m not ashamed of my age—at least not yet. I think the reason life seems so short is because we literally spend half our lives wishing it away. Think about it—we race through childhood, stumble through adolescence and then break free and run like motherfuckers toward independence only to find ourselves collecting the plastic “thanks for participating” trophies on the other side of the finish line with the rest of the tired assholes who now realize that being an adult kinda sucks ass. Before we know what hits us we’ve worked, screwed, spent and wasted most of the precious time we had to be young. But, because we’re human, and because we really have no other choice but to live, grow and hopefully learn from our mistakes, we celebrate each new year of our lives with hope and gratitude (or, at least we try) even though the thrill of living is pretty much gone. (Cue the John Cougar Mellencamp song.)
There’s a lot I’d like to go back and say to my fourteen-year-old self, my twenty-four-year-old self, and even my thirty-four-year-old self, but today I’m leaving those young shitheads behind. Today, and for at least the next 365 days, I’m focusing on the woman who just turned forty-four. That woman has done a thing or two she’s proud of, but she has a long way to go. Most days she’s pretty much a hot mess. She works hard, she gives a lot and though others expect a lot out of her, she expects even more from herself. She gets tired sometimes, and she gets pissed off. So, when she—okay, I’ll stop talking about myself in the third person—when I start feeling this way, one of the things I do is write myself a letter. This might seem nuts to some people, but it’s a good way to stop yourself from spiraling down into your own shit by taking a minute to look at a situation from the outside in. Believe it or not, it helps. These letters aren’t something I usually share, mainly because they pretty much suck, and because those words aren’t meant for anyone but me. But, because I just turned another year older, I decided to take a few excerpts from one I recently wrote because I think a few people out there (maybe on the verge of a mid-life crisis) just might relate to a few things I had to say to myself.
So, without any further rambling, here’s my observations/advice for the woman in the mirror as she embarks on Year 44 …
- You’re sensitive. You hide it well, but you know you are. You interpret facial expressions, body language, words and actions to sometimes mean more than they should. Sometimes this means you’re observant, but sometimes it really has nothing to do with you. Stop thinking that it always is.
- You’re insensitive. You routinely dismiss compliments when given because you don’t believe they’re true. That’s horse shit. Take them in and say, “thank you” before brushing them off your sleeve like the dog or cat hair that constantly clings to you. Just believe in the fact that sometimes people are drawn to you because of who you are, and not because of what you can do for them.
- Let it go. There’s a lot to be pissed off about sometimes, but problems are never solved through anger—they’re solved through action. Sometimes anger begets action, but being patient, weighing the options and formulating a plan is what delivers positive results. Be wise enough to know when to plan and when to just let it go. That will make all the difference.
- Embrace the inevitable. Time and tide waits for no one. You can’t stop time, it will march across your face, your heart and your life. Instead of constantly trying to pull it back, just go with it. Or, better yet, give it a bear hug now and then. Trust that it will love you in return, and when it does, be grateful and stop wasting it.
- Drop the rope. This one is especially tough for you because you are constantly at war with yourself, and that forces you to declare war on others. Your nature to rebel against conformity is at times admirable, but it’s also stupid. It’s okay to conform for the right reasons, but don’t play tug-of-war with everyone and everything just to keep yourself in the game. Drop out sometimes and save your strength for when the fight really matters.
- Listen, don’t talk. People are comfortable telling you things because they know you care, and because of this you feel the need to explain to them why you relate to what they’re going through. Just shut the fuck up. They’re telling you things because they need to be heard, they don’t always need to hear you.
- Don’t listen. People say things, they say a lot of things, and they use words that are sometimes hurtful. You put on a brave face, but this crushes you. Don’t let it. They do this because they don’t get you. And guess what? They don’t have to get you or the things you do because it doesn’t matter if they do or if they don’t. Let them judge. Let them pontificate. Let them assume. But always remember—You. Do. Not. Have. To. Hear. Them.
- You are both the center and the outer layer. At the core you are soft and full of fire. But at the surface you are coarse and impenetrable because you fear unrequited emotions. Learn to bridge the gap. Be soft and strong. Be open. Take more chances. Burn. Cool. Repeat.
- Walk the walk. Talk the talk. You wax poetic, and people dig that about you—sometimes, but only when the words and actions meet. Don’t be the woman who writes cool shit, be the woman who does cool shit. It matters.
- Solitude fits you like a glove, but don’t forget to take that glove off now and then. No one likes sweaty hands, and your hands are worth holding.
- Give in to the ebb and flow. Sometimes you need to relinquish control. You hold too tight to people and circumstances that you can’t change. Let those people and things drain out of your life and, before you put the cap back on, let yourself be filled by those who value you for who you really are and, if you’re lucky, you’ll start to overflow.
- Don’t give up. I know you’re tired and that’s okay. Just take a breath and find a way to believe in yourself and your abilities again. You know you’re not the best, but there’s value in what you do even if you don’t always see it. Quitting is the only thing that ensures defeat and, damn it, bitch—you are too God damn smart for that.
As always, thank you for reading. Writers know how busy life is, and we consider it a privilege when you take the time to read our shit. For real.