I turned 55 on 2/22/22. For the last few years, I thought, “how can that date NOT be magical?” I pinned all sorts of hopes on this birthday as if then my life would REALLY begin. Or, I’d have everything figured out—a magic key that opened only the best doors. Surely by that day, my life will have morphed into everything I have been waiting for, everything I’ve been working towards. I envisioned vacationing in beautiful places with the perfect partner, popping champagne to celebrate…I’m not sure what and laughing with old friends. Or maybe that was a car commercial. No matter! It was going to be FAB-U-LOUS!
When the day finally came, it was indeed wonderful. I received calls, texts, and messages from family and friends from all over the world. I felt incredibly lucky and I laughed and cried more than once. I was only hours into being 55 and I was ROCKING IT. And then, it was over. Lying in bed that night, an uneasy feeling began to flood my body. What was wrong? A familiar inner voice said with disdain, “You still don’t have it figured out.”
At first, I tried to ignore it. But I was in that odd space of being half-awake and half-asleep where every emotion is weirdly magnified. I felt lost. I felt stupid and pissed at myself for even entertaining the idea that I could create the life I wanted. I recounted every choice and every pivot over the last decade. I began labeling what once seemed like a series of courageous steps as incredibly stupid mistakes-choices I made willingly and couldn’t take back. I journeyed the rabbit hole of comparing myself to my more successful friends with their amazing partners and equally amazing retirement accounts. What had I done to myself?
I continued to silently spin out. It was now 2:00 AM, my birthday officially over. My room was completely dark and still, as though all the air had been sucked out of it. I instructed myself to take a deep breath and then another, just long enough to allow a different voice to slip in. It wasn’t the voice of a judge or a critic. This voice was very matter-of-fact. “The question isn’t ‘what have you done to yourself?’, but rather, ‘what have you done for yourself?’” OK…That was definitely a more empowering question, but maybe it was a trick. Maybe I was simply trying to talk myself out of being a screw-up. I decided that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world and started to tally up the things I had done for myself.
Within minutes, I fell asleep. When I woke up, all my angst felt very far away and what I was left with was a gossamer thread of incredible twists and turns, small life sparks that brought me to this very moment. I’ve always been impatient. I’ve always wanted to get from A to B quickly. But that’s changing. Life continually reminds me that I’m exactly where I need to be. It’s still unfolding and will always be unfolding. Even better, I get to choose again and again without time constraints and without judgment.
It’s OK to drive 55. It’s even better to be 55.