With my recent 35th birthday that just passed, I spent a bit of time reflecting on the previous year, as well as the upcoming one. As with most years, there were wins, losses, and more importantly, lessons learned.
Here are a few of the lessons that year 34 reinforced to me, that I think may serve as great reminders for you as well.
1) Trust your own timeline
I know this may sound a bit cliché, but still very true nonetheless. We all have a different journey, and a very unique divine calling, so trying to compare your timeline to that of others is not only futile, but may even be a disservice to you.
As an athlete, it is was easy for me to get stuck in the comparison game. Routinely reminding myself to “stay in my lane” was not only practical advice I needed to be successful on the track, but also a metaphorical adage I was forced to cling to off the track. Constant thoughts of “how many medals does she have” or “what is her PB” or “how much is her appearance fee” were a hindrance to me achieving my goals, and I had to let them go.
Being concerned with what someone has may serve as a useful gauge in the beginning, but if left unchecked, can lead to feelings of inadequacy, envy, and a host of other negative emotions. Let’s be intentional about where we place our focus.
This lesson is very relevant to non athletes as well, and still one I had to remind myself of even now that I’m retired. While I was going through the transition of hanging up my spikes and embracing my new identity as a former athlete, I had moments of comparison as well. Although I was happy with my decision to retire, on one hand I subconsciously glamorized the life of my former pro track colleagues, while being a little humbled by how much growth my college peers had made in their corporate careers upon graduation.
It was very interesting to be stuck in the middle of both worlds while reclaiming new identities, but ultimately I trusted the process, and realized that it made more sense to focus on the positives of where I was, and where I wanted to go.
I’m sure there are aspects of our journeys we all wish we could change, but I also think it’s important to trust our own timelines. More focus on self improvement, and less focus on comparing ourselves to others.
2) “They” don’t really care, so do you
We’ve all been told not to live our lives for others but this past year I’ve been reminded of this on several occasions. It can be easy to feel like you’re always being watched in this age of social media, but the truth is people are typically focused on their own issues and don’t care about yours as much as you think they do. Knowing that, you’d be foolish to allow the often misguided perception of others’ opinions dictate how you live your life.
Trust me when I say: they really don’t care that much, so do you.
I know that may sound cynical or even a bit harsh, but the older I get, the more I realize just how true this is. We all have our own battles we are fighting so I’ve learned it’s a much better use of my time to fight my own than being consumed with how you fight yours.
It’s one thing to seek wise counsel when you’re making large decisions, which I encourage, but it’s important to ultimately arrive at decisions that are truly best for ourselves.
This is why I often pray for discernment.
3) Don’t fear getting older
We live in a society that often makes you feel bad for getting older, and this can be particularly tough for women. With the focus on age, many of us have arbitrary milestones that we beat ourselves up over if we don’t meet.
For some these milestone goals may look like:
Married by 27
House by 28
First child by 30
Millionaire by 32
And then year 35 rolls around, and instead of being grateful to see another birthday, you’re somehow thinking you’re a failure because you can’t tick every goal off your list.
Going back to lesson #1, just because someone else’s journey looks a certain way does not mean yours will as well. Nor is it meant to.
I’ve experienced enough death in my life to know that each day is a huge blessing, and should be treated as such. Having a fear of getting older is like having a wonderful gift in the palm of your hand and not appreciating its value.
Here’s to trusting our timelines, doing what’s best for us, and truly appreciating getting older & wiser.