I'm a little freaked out about turning 40 in a few months. This surprises me; no other milestone birthday has affected me in any way. On the contrary, I was really excited to turn 30---I had just gotten married a year ago, and was finishing up residency (my last overnight call was on my 30th birthday actually). G and I were ready to set off on our grand adventure, moving 1000s of miles away and starting fresh for my fellowship. We were making plans to get a dog, and discussing (more vague and long-term) plans to acquire human dependents. The birthday only confirmed the new stage in life I was entering. I no longer felt like a person "in my 20s" and had no qualms about leaving that decade behind.
This feels different somehow. 40 might be the new 30, but its still forty, you know? It just seems...different. I think of 40 in the age range of 40-59, and that is way way different than 20-39, right? I don't feel 40. I feel like a 40-year old woman should be wiser, more mature, more self-assured, calm and centered. Not constantly second-guessing herself, suffering from acute imposter syndrome in every facet of life, wondering how anybody could really be fooled into thinking she's an adult. Not irritable, still prone to episodes of anger & yelling & pouting and numbing & distracting when life doesn't go her away.
I know its ridiculous. A birthday is just a date, not a magic gateway into a more enlightened state. Just like children, adults develop at different paces and many sadly plateau somewhere in the middle. It is and will continue to be a constant work in progress, my strive to be more zen, more confident, more grounded.
The other part bringing me down is of course the more obvious one...I'm getting old. Half of my life is behind me, and not all of what is ahead really seems all that appealing. Time is coursing by so quickly. I'm feeling an urgency, a kick in the pants and an insistent voice in my ear "if not now, then when?"
If I'm not happy with something in my life, gritting my teeth and waiting it out is no longer acceptable to me as the default option. How much more of my life do I need to sacrifice to unhappiness, simply because I was too lazy or afraid to try to make it better? No. If something is truly bothering me, I need to A) change it or B) accept it and (if possible) embrace it as my reality.
I'm trying to get some practice on option A, starting with the little things. I recently wrote about bad habits in my life. These are the things that I keep half-heartedly trying to change, giving up, making excuses, feeling guilty and ultimately ending up back where I started. My goal for the next few months is to tackle them. I know I can do. In fact, I've already done one---I've virtually eliminated clothes shopping from my life aside from a few planned purchases. The shopping ban method really works for me. I've got the exercise thing locked down. I even made it through a month of a low-carb diet (4 more days!)
All of these things? They were things I'd told myself I could never do. I could NEVER just not shop for clothes every few months. I could NEVER wake up at 5:30 to work out. I could NEVER give up carbs and breakfast & dinner or my precious precious crackers. And of course I could! I just...decided to do it and I did it.
We all know people who want to make changes in their life, yet come up with a million excuses for why they can't do any of the things proven to work, right? Its incredibly annoying when you're listening to it from the outside. Yet most of us make excuses for our own behavior, and it feels justified to us because no one else understands, and we really CAN'T do this or that, like give up cable or stop eating fast food or walk for 20 minutes a day.
What has worked for me is pushing back against those excuses. The more I tell myself I "can't" do something in service of a goal that is important to me, the more I need to challenge it. And then just F'ING DO IT for a set period of time. If I was right, and I really can't keep it up? Great, I tried it, I can quit. Move onto the next strategy (or recognize that this is the time to employ option B and just let that goal go) But sometimes...my excuses were just my laziness and fear getting in my own way. The thing I "couldn't" do? That I just did? It wasn't even that bad.
I'm reading posts about it all over your blogs lately, and its obviously something I want to change, so my first "No Excuses" challenge is going to be limiting social media. I'm gathering up strategies (and the more I feel "I can't" do those things, the higher on my list they need to go!) I'll still read your blogs and the sites that I find inspiring and educational, but I don't want to lose more of my life to mindless scrolling and constant intake of information that doesn't enhance my life, and actively keeps me away from the activities that do.
Hit me with your strategies for limiting social media. Anybody want to join me for accountability?