The best part about getting older is how much more energy I feel I have to devote to things I care about. My values become clearer all the time. So living those values and expending energy where it matters means so many things drop by the wayside. Here are a few that I’m not missing these days.
- Friendships that aren’t meaningful. I’m always open to new connections. I’m often amazed at how much room can be created for relationships that matter. How easy it is to pick up a friendship with someone I rarely see but love to pieces. But parenthood, schedules and loving early bed times makes seeing those folks harder. So making time for people who sometimes seem like my friend and sometimes don’t, for relationships that aren’t supportive, uplifting or just hard? I have to decline. Saves on drama and leaves myself with more time to devote to the ones that are mutually beneficial and matter most.
- If I’m well liked or not. I once vetted every choice I made, even about what I “liked” by others. Consumed with the fear that a wrong step, even wearing the wrong clothes would lead to being disliked. When I found my voice and started standing up for what I believed in, I found there was no way to be assertive and well liked. That if I didn’t craft my conviction as curious questions or apologies, I would be viewed poorly. The harder I tried to be universally liked, the more ways I found that to be impossible. Not without silencing important parts of who I am. So instead I put that same energy to better use making sure I’m honoring my own values. That I like my behavior. That I’m happy with my life and how I’m living it. Sometimes that means people don’t like me, but at least I’m coming by it honestly.
- Criticism without love. The internet is a really good place to get comfy with critics. And comfy I have gotten. I take every critique (at least briefly) to heart. “Is this mine?” is a question I often ask. I ponder if it’s a place I need to grow, an insecurity of mine, or if it belongs to the sender. Sometimes these provide really helpful looks at myself, and sometimes they do not. But what I will not do any longer is spend copious amounts of time agonizing over harsh words from someone that are meant only to be hurtful or attack. It’s hard, because it’s my engrained habit to attach the nastiest of words to myself and not let go. But I don’t respect the act of putting someone down just to belittle them, and engaging in that in any way doesn’t fit with my values.
- How “hot” my body is to others. I don’t agree that I’m here to be looked at, an object for judgement or that my value is in my desirability. Another great benefit of the internet is all the wonderful experience I’ve had being called fat, ugly and disgusting. This being a primary way people choose to engage when they disagree with my content. What’s great about this opportunity for insults is that I’ve had so much practice disagreeing. If my values are such that I don’t agree that this is where my worth is, then I won’t spend energy here either. Don’t think I’m hot? I guess we have different taste. =)
- Fitting in. What’s so funny about not caring about fitting in, is that I so much more frequently find where I do now. Not trying to be anyone other than exactly who I am means almost immediately finding “my people” in a room. But it also means that sometimes I stick out like a sore thumb. Which is of very little consequence to me. I’d rather like who I am then fit in where I wouldn’t be wanted without compromise.
I love getting older. I don’t buy into this idea that sometime after 30 we are to start mourning our youth. You couldn’t pay me to go back to all of the ways I can now see that I chose to struggle. I’m more than happy to be called ma’am (you’re damn right I’m a ma’am, and I’m not into being called what you would call my 7 year old). I can’t wait to see what old lady me is into and what she’s let go of.
To letting go,