Today I turned 43 and as with most years, I’ve had plenty of feelings about it. After a long chat with my friend Helen, I realise I’m definitely not the only one who gets extra reflective around each anniversary.
As I’ve leaned into my forties, I realise that my concerns aren’t that different to the ones I had in my twenties, even though I’ve made life decisions that should have taken the pressure off, at least a bit more than they actually have. Most of the fears I have around ageing are based on whether or not I’ve achieved enough and honestly, I don’t know how much more I need to do to convince myself I’ve made it.
I suspect even if I were CEO of my own empire, married to Keanu Reeves with a pet unicorn in the garden, I still wouldn’t be able to accept that I’d done enough. Also, those aren’t things I particularly aspire to – KR withstanding. It’s only my habit of comparing myself to the women I see on social media that makes me think I’m not living my best life and truly, I often think I might be.
I mean, I’m happy and that’s always been my main objective. Twelve years ago there was no way I pictured a future this bright – my head was in exactly the opposite place – and being here now is everything. I want to nurture what I have and maybe the best way to do that is to be grateful for it, and to turn my head away from anything that makes me feel like I’m not enough.
Easier said than done, right?
In other news but also connected to the annual navel gazing, I’ve been taking lessons from 2020 and enjoying my narrower world view. The pandemic has forced me to look at the relationships I enjoy, need and want in my life – and streamline things. While there’s been little choice in the matter, all this has illustrated how thinly I spread myself sometimes and it’s got to stop.
One of the things I really struggle with is trying to accommodate everyone and it’s not cute. While I don’t go out of my way to be popular, I do enjoy being liked and people-pleasing is a big part of that. Lately, especially in the work setting, I’ve been really flexible and accommodating – and frankly, have come away feeling underappreciated and taken advantage of. Like we all do sometimes, I’m sure.
My niceness – that toxic-positivity – is often to my detriment. So here I am at Level 43 and this is the year I am determined to take a step back from all that – and to be more honest about my feelings, even when they’re negative. Even when I feel like I’m burdening others with my darker thoughts.
In the end this can only be a good thing – and honestly, I don’t think when I’m gone and all people can say is “she was nice” – that would be something to be proud of. The new me is going to tell it like it is, even if it’s ugly and even if it makes me unpopular. Anyone else suffer from people pleasing?