Today, 18 May 2021, is the last day of my 30’s. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be 40. Sheesh…40…that somehow seems so much older than 39. I hate that turning 40 is bothering me. It’s so cliche. I’m not cliche. Well, not typically anyway. So why is turning 40 such a problem for me? Is it because I’m wondering whether or not I’m “where I’m supposed to be” at age 40? Maybe. Is it because I’ve never been married and am still single. Maybe. Is it because I sometimes wonder what I’m doing as an adult? Maybe.
The whole mid-life crisis thing that supposedly happens when you turn 40, where you suddenly chop off all your hair, buy a new sports car, and quit your job hasn’t happened. Well…I did cut my hair recently, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t crisis-related. I do, however, find myself pondering about making some changes in my life. Changes that would be slightly life-changing, but not quit your job or buy a new car life-changing. More like changes in daily habits that would allow me to be happier and more healthy overall.
As I type this, I’m sitting in a restaurant on the coast in Jeju, overlooking the ocean. Not at all how I envisioned my life at 40- living internationally and traveling the world (you know…when Covid allows)- but I have to say, I’m thankful that my life turned out differently from the one I imagined as a child and young adult. At that time, I never thought I’d teach internationally, let alone in multiple countries. I thought I’d get married by age 22, have a kid by 25, another a couple of years after that, and teach in a school district in Texas until I retired. There’s nothing wrong with that life, but it isn’t mine. My life has led me to interesting places and some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, who are now my people…you know, those people you couldn’t imagine life without.
All of this came from stepping out of my comfort zone, taking a leap of faith, and following my heart. For the next phase in life, my 40’s, I will need to do that again in order to change. If I don’t, I’ll remain stuck in the same old mindset I’m in now, which no longer serves me. I’ll need to get over my fear and just start. My need to be perfect (which never happens anyway) has to fall away. I have to step off into the unknown, knowing that I’ll likely fall flat on my face. But knowing that after I fall, I can get back up. Falling down doesn’t signal the end; it’s just a stumbling block along the way.
Today is the last day of my 30’s. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be 40. And contrary to my fears, it’ll be okay. I’ll be stepping into what I’ve heard is sure to be the best decade of my life. Let’s hope they’re right.