On the morning of my 42nd birthday, I don't mean to ask what 42 looks like, as in, do I have more wrinkles now than I did when I was 22? (Yes.) Or am I more or less physically fit, or do I look "better" now than I did back then. None of this is of interest to me. And this is exactly why I love, love, love being 42 and would not trade it for a second, to go back to who I was two decades ago.
What I mean to ask is How does my life look now? How does it look inside the landscape of my heart? It is a kind of question often asked in coaching conversations. What would your life look like... if you had what you really wanted?... if you were living your dreams?
At 22 I was still trying to gain the attention of men and prove I was right about certain things rather than just accepting how I felt, and saw the world, and extending the same to others. At 22 I was still afraid of conflict, having been part of a Conflict Avoidance family pattern for my entire upbringing. At 22 I was still spending time with people whose being didn’t glow with the same fire and power I longed for in my own soul.
Life at 42 looks like fire, earth, water and a succulent dose of blood all mixed up into a stupendous stew of personal power that 22 had no idea was coming.
And just as two 5-year-olds will feel and express a lot of variety in their ways, two 42-year-olds will too. This is how life is for me at 42. Being “over the hill” might look completely different for others at my age.
This piece of writing intends to encourage some of the 22- and 16- and 14- and 32-year-olds who I know and love, to relieve their own suffering and fear of aging. You didn’t make up that “rule” — the Youth Is Better Rule — but chances are, you’ve bought into it. Good thing, you don’t have to “buy” yourself out. You’ve just got to be your own best friend, live your truth like your joy depends on it — because it does — and accept that nothing of real and lasting value comes from “outside” of you.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a lifelong letter writer, a mother, freelance consultant and eternal fan of Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. This deeply personal blog and our recorded talks and workshops are devoted to one of her great passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.