One afternoon at the start of the school year, my daughter came running into my room with a list of supplies she needed for her Halloween costume. She was dressing up as superheroes with a group of friends and she was going to be Wonder Woman. I was surprised – she usually resisted costumes.
Fast forward to the night before Halloween, when she came into my office sulking that she hated her costume. This sounded more like my girl. I know her. Over time she will better understand herself and she will accept certain truths about herself. She can then avoid moments like this past Halloween, when she awkwardly clomped around her school’s field, in a costume she felt embarrassed by, in front of every other student, faculty and parent at the school. In her eyes, 15 minutes of torture.
No one expects a second grader to fully know themselves. But as a member of the over forty crowd, sometimes I feel like I am the only one who doesn’t have it all figured out.
I mean, Gwyneth has it figured out: “I wish more women had told me that at 40 you sort of stop worrying about what other people think about you, and you come into yourself in the most phenomenal way.”
And Jennifer Aniston has it all figured out: “I feel better in my 40s…because, say, in your 20s, you didn’t know s–t. For me, in my 30s I was just trying to figure it all out. Then when you hit 40, you’re like, ‘Oh, okay. I got this.’”
All the writers who produce those articles titled, “30 Things You Know For Sure Once You Hit 30” or “Why Facing Adversity Allows You to Know and Live Your Truth”…they clearly have it all figured out.
As for me, I don’t know if I will ever figure it out. And I am not sure I want to.
Yes, it’s true, over time, I have gotten to know myself better. I will never dress up as a superhero with a group of friends. I prefer Pilates over Soul Cycle. I love gummy candy. I like working for myself. I learn better visually. I don’t like clutter. I prefer small groups over big crowds. I’m an early bird, not a night owl. All of these nuggets of self-knowledge, collected over time, allow me to be happier, more content and more productive.
GUMMY CANDY: MY KRYPTONITE
But there are still plenty of times when I feel awkward and I do give a s-t. There are times when I am in over my head, I fear messing up, times when I feel vulnerable, embarrassed or agitated because I made the wrong decision.
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to turn a certain age and be 100% comfortable in my life and my skin, so settled that nothing ever fazes me. I want to keep trying new things and failing, feeling the full range of emotions: embarrassed, ashamed and also joyfully happy. I want to experience novelty, and I want to grow and learn.
If you are like me and you haven’t figured it all out, and are thinking that perhaps you never will, don’t despair. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Let’s make lists of the 10,000 things we still want to learn, experience and do. Let’s keep figuring it out forever.