“This is who I am, this is who I’m not, This is what I want, this is what I’m leaving behind.”
As I celebrate a half-decade year, I’ve discovered that ageing is a surprising process of becoming the person you always wanted to be.
I’m sitting in an airport with my laptop, on my way home after three weeks of travel. It’s my third trip for the year so far and I have four weeks at home before I head to Italy for a writer’s retreat.
I get to write to and travel and have a life I thought I could only ever dream of. Dreams are funny things. When we get a vision of what we want, it can sit in our subconscious for years and life has a way of leading us into the very path we envisioned. IF we have the courage to pursue them.
I often ask myself, ‘Who do you want to be ?’
The answer isn’t so much about what I do, it’s about the person I’m becoming.
As I contemplate my next birthday, I’m liking myself more and I’m more comfortable in my own skin. The process is life-long. It’ll never be over, but the becoming is a beautiful journey.
To get this far, there have been five things I’ve had to let go of.
1. The Fear of Other’s Opinions:
Courage is something I’ve found has increased as I age. I’ve let go of being crippled by what others think of me. Over the years, I’ve developed a healthy measure of resilience that helps me look past criticism, rejection, and humiliation, and enables me to move forward.
2. My Comfort Zone:
There are stupid risks and then there are measured risks, but without risk, you will never be able to make changes that lead you to your next step. If I hadn’t given up teaching, a career I loved, in order to write and travel, I wouldn’t be sitting here at the airport right now. I’d be in a classroom–probably happy–but perhaps never stepping out of my comfort zone and living the life I do.
Expectations of others and expectations we impose on ourselves can be so limiting. At times, I’ve shaped my public persona around who I thought I was expected to be. The Perfect Mother. The Conscientious Teacher. The Easy-going Woman. All the incarnations of my public persona were built on expectations. Some were relevant and important. Some were constructions of societal norms. Some were self-inflicted, based on incorrect beliefs.
Coming to a place in life, where the only expectations that matter are based on my values, my beliefs, and my love of people, has freed me to be the person I know I’m meant to be. If that’s difficult for others to accept or like or live with, that’s fine. I’m the only one who has to live in my skin. It’s between me and God.
I’ve learnt to judge myself less harshly and, in the process, learnt not to judge others. I don’t know if it’s a mathematical correlation, but the less I judge myself, the less I judge others. I’m not responsible for anyone else’s behaviour or beliefs and therefore have no right to judge. I leave that to God as well.
Learning to let go of judgement has helped me to navigate parenting adult children, navigate meeting people who have very different lives to me, and to navigate the deepest parts of my soul with more freedom.
5. The Plan:
Detours take you to unexpected destinations. When we make our five-year plans, we never really know what’s around the corner. We force ourselves to doggedly follow the PLAN to the letter. We get thrown when life throws a curve ball. A failure. A delay. A health crisis.
Learning to let things sit. To wait. To not push and hustle. Letting things come in their own time has allowed me to become free to be the person I want to be. I never want to push or hustle. The PLAN is important. We need direction and vision, but if it means achieving it to the detriment of family, friends, health, your very soul, it isn’t worth it.
So, let go and enjoy becoming who you’re meant to be.