(image courtesy of Google images)
I recently turned 37. It’s not a monumental year or anything. It’s not like turning 16, 29, or even 35; 37 is a weird age. It’s the perfect definition of old enough to know better, but perhaps still too young to care.
My turning 37 years old means that I am pretty much at the middle age mark. Some of you may agree or disagree with that statement or you may feel, like my beloved aunts who couldn’t believe that I was grumbling about turning a mere 37 because I’m still a ‘young pup’, it’s still quite young. But, it is what it is, or at least what I perceive it to be. Doubling 37 makes it 74, and if you look at the statistics, that is just a few years shy of the life expectancy for a Canadian woman.
I’m not dwelling on the stats though, or even my age, because it really is just a number, but turning 37 made me realize a few things. Perhaps ‘realize’ is not even the right word because I’m sure that I have ‘realized’ these things at more than one point in my life or another. Perhaps the age of 37 has brought me into a more reflective state with certain issues in my life, I’m not sure. But, in all honesty, 37 feels like a turning point for me.
For many of us, there comes a point in time where we come to the conclusion that there are certain changes we may need to make in our lives. For me, the first and foremost necessary adjustment is that I need to start taking care of myself both physically and emotionally. I am a giver – I give and give and give until there isn’t much, if anything, left for me. That needs to change, or at least shift a bit. I can give to others, but I also have to give to myself too. I realize that I have said that before, but this time I really need to start practicing what I preach. A wise friend is also working very hard at teaching me the following: “I do not have to accept everything that is offered to me.” It’s a work in progress but I’m realizing that I don’t have to download and internalize everything that is “dumped” on me. I can listen but not every issue needs to become ‘mine’. Some of you may understand that more than others.
So many of us torture ourselves daily, worrying about what others may think of us. I believe I also need to work on putting myself first in regards to what people think. I often worry, sometimes to the point of anxiety, about what others think of or about me and the decisions that I make. I need to remember this: others are most likely thinking less about me than I am about them. As another wise friend pointed out, the only people whose opinions I should value are the ones who love and care about the real me.
We may reach a point in our lives where we feel the need to step back and reflect on our lives and all that is offered to us. My turning 37 also means that I need to start to really focus on what truly matters to me, to my life I share with my loved ones, and the goals I set for myself. Far too often I get caught up in doing what I think I “should” do and I stop doing what I actually love or want to do. I think I’ve lost sight of who I am and the way I see myself. That is a sad reflection but a true one. I need to remember what makes me, me, and after 37 years I think I need to refresh my memory.
Exactly a week before my 37th birthday and Christmas we unexpectedly lost a family member. This loss hit me hard as I realized that it is not only younger people who feel the depths of despair and loneliness. My heart ached for those closest to my uncle. It is incredibly hard to understand loss – especially loss which is embedded in so much personal sadness. I truly hope that my readers were able to reach out to at least one person who was possibly feeling sad or alone over the Christmas season. Also, all-too-heart-breaking and all-too-recently losing a special pet dear to my heart has saddened me. These losses have made me realize that while we get bogged down in life’s trials and tribulations, we learn to appreciate all that we have when things suddenly change.
We all are fighting our own battles and, at the same time, achieving our own victories. Some of us handle stress, issues, and difficult times easier than others and in different ways. It’s often hard to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ and to completely understand what others may be going through, but compassion can go a long way. I think that we all need to be kinder to ourselves and to others, no matter what age we are. We need to take better care of ourselves and our own needs. We need to truly believe that we are the best ‘we’ that we can be and if that’s not enough for others, then that is not our problem. It’s time to focus on what is important to us and there’s never a better time to start than now.
Each moment, day, week, month and year we are given is a gift. I hope to spend my next 37 years truly appreciating that.