What If You’re Not Too Late, You’re Actually Right On Time?
Happy Birthday to me.
Today is my birthday.
I’m 46 years old.
According to all the life expectancy tables, I’m five years past the exact middle of my life. So, literally, over the hill.
But I have to tell you, it doesn’t feel that way to me.
Yes, my metabolism has changed. And I now wear these fancy progressive reading glasses more often than not.
I mention my age in much of my writing. Not because I am horrified by it, but because I am mystified by it. How could I be 46 years old? It feels nothing on the inside like it sounds on the outside.
I don’t feel old, or too late, or over the hill.
I feel right on time.
And the older I get, the more on time I feel.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with the idea that I was too late, that the ship had sailed. Too late to change careers in my late 20's after spending almost 5 years in graduate school. Too late to have kids in my mid to late 30's. (Although biology almost agreed with me on that one).
Too late to start running half marathons in my early 40’s after a lifetime of being more of a gym rat than an “athlete.”
Too late to publish anything that I wrote at 45 years old. Because “I’m not a writer.” Because people might judge. Because, who wants to hear the musings and observations of a middle-aged woman?
But guess what, I wasn’t too late to do any of those things. I was right on time. The way my life has unfolded to date, I can’t imagine the events happening in any different way. Every struggle, every life lesson, every joy and pain and surprise has brought me to this point. Stand one of those dominoes at a different angle and everything would fall in a different way. Everything would change. And why would I want that?
Perhaps with one caveat. One lesson that I had to face over and over and over until I finally learned it. One thing that would have helped me so much, if I’d taken it to heart a little sooner. It’s this: Nobody else actually cares when you do anything in your life. They’re too busy worrying about whether they are too late to do something on their own. Any negative words or comments that anyone else says to you. Those are really comments they are making to themselves, about themselves. Their own fears, their own insecurities. Their own fragile relationship with time. Those comments I used to hear and fear never had anything to do with me.
It’s a lesson that took me many years to learn, but the freedom of it is so enormous that it was worth the wait.
So, take it from me, from over here on the other side of the hill. Stop worrying about and obsessing and thinking about time. And if you have control over it, or can perfect it. You can’t. It doesn’t exist. Things happen when they happen. You have control over your choices. But picking the choice that feels right to you, that comes from your own internal voice and not the voices of others. That will always bring you to the right place at the right time and in the right order. It might bring you to a painful learning experience. Or a level of success that you never thought possible. But they’re all beautiful moments and they all move you forward. Because that’s life.
So that’s it. A missive from an older lady on her birthday. But there’s one more thing. I still get a birthday wish. Later today I’ll eat ice cream cake with my family and blow out my candle (only one, because fire hazard). But I already know what my wish will be. My birthday wish this year is that you each feel the peace and happiness that I feel with this moment in time. I’m not too late. And I want you to realize that you aren’t either. Perfect might not exist, but this moment is pretty damn close.
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