One of the most wonderful things about getting older is the wisdom we now possess. Some days I wish I could write a letter to my younger self. I would love to remind her/me to lighten up and enjoy life; in the words of Queen Elsa, "Let it Go". It has taken me almost 50 years, but I have finally learned to do just that; to let go and enjoy myself.
When I was in my twenties I was consumed with finishing school, getting married, getting a good job, buying a house, and when I had a moment to breathe I was thinking about being a good wife and starting a family. Having children left no time to even think, walking around in a sleep deprived state I tried to balance work and children and home responsibilities and found myself unable to be successful at any of them because I was spread too thin. I constantly expected too much of myself.
When I was in my thirties I was so busy working and raising children that I rarely stopped for even a minute to take care of myself. My biggest indulgence was an occasional Danielle Steel romance novel that I would read late at night. Thank goodness I raised my children before Pinterest existed, I put enough pressure on my self to be and do everything, I didn’t need perfect Pinterest Moms showing me all of my shortcomings. I somehow managed to show up at all of the school functions (except for the one Valentines party in first grade for my oldest daughter – and she never lets me forget it). I worked and even managed to get involved with my professional organization, serving on the national board of directors, but I was constantly juggling. I knew that if I slowed down for even an instant – all of the plates I was juggling would come crashing down around my head.
My forties were a bizarre experiment in life changes, I found myself a single parent, struggling to make ends meet. Raising teenagers, trying to date again, it was surreal. I managed to begin to find time for me; time to exercise, time to go out on dates, even the luxurious time to go and get a manicure, but I was still obsessed with control. Was I making good decisions with my finances? Was I doing enough to take care of the house? What if something happened? My thoughts were consumed with what-ifs and I continued to struggle with being good enough.
Somewhere in my late forties it happened – like a light bulb suddenly turning on, I could see the light. Life wasn’t about being perfect. It wasn’t a big cosmic contest. The whole point of life wasn’t to always be better than everyone else. I realized that life was actually meant to be enjoyed. I didn’t have to beat myself up about every decision. As Queen Elsa so beautifully sang – “the past is in the past”.
I am so grateful for everything in my life, my incredible husband, my amazing daughters, my family, my friends, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, but I would love to be able to whisper into the ear of my younger self and just say – “Let it go”. It would have made my journey a whole lot easier.