Curious what life is like on “the other side,” since I am still a mere adolescent in my 30s (for eight more months), I asked her what newfound wisdom she has gathered from the many best wishes messages, cards and conversations she has had with those already living in “the beyond.” I was so intrigued and inspired by her discoveries, I asked her if she would share her collected pearls of wisdom with you here on this blog. She agreed (if I washed her car—she’s a tough negotiator!).
Advice from the ‘Other Side’ by Georgia Hardy
If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that “life begins at 40,” I could buy the world a martini. I just crossed a very important threshold in my life and spent the most glorious 40th birthday celebration weekend with my most cherished friends and family. And though there was a wide range of ages and generations represented, many of them told me similar things about being 40 and how “life happens” in one’s 40s.
What does this mean? Does this mean that I haven’t really been living? Does it mean that my 20s and 30s were just dress rehearsals for my grand 40s? Well, I asked these very questions, and though the responses were varied, they were all very interesting.
Imperfection Is Perfect
In a conversation with my friend Valerie, she shared two important realizations that have made a difference in her life. First, she described transitioning into her 40s as a sort of liberation to choose, think and “show up” in the world exactly as she herself deemed real and authentic, without being influenced by the tug and pull of others.
She described how she no longer gets wrapped up in making things “perfect” or allowing herself to be shoved around by the expectations of others, or, in some cases, the expectations she thought others had of her. This is very liberating to me. The idea that I can give up what others expect of me, that I can truly make my own rules and spend my life as I see fit, is extremely freeing.
It Doesn’t Just Happen
Second, she also said one of her mottos is: “It doesn’t just happen.” Well, what doesn’t just happen? The answer: “Everything doesn’t just happen.” A good marriage, respectful children, close and meaningful relationships, a fulfilling career, a sense of satisfaction and gratitude—nothing just happens. Rather, everything in one’s life is in direct proportion to the attention, effort and importance given to it.
The notion of personal responsibility is not a revolutionary or new concept, but I think I finally get it. It took three decades of experience and discovery to understand that, good or bad, life “happens” based on how I steer it. I now fully realize that I, as well as everyone else, have the power to design whatever life I desire.
A Look in the Rearview Mirror
Looking back through my 20s, though I was always a productive, responsible and level-headed person, I was overly affected by others’ opinions of me. I thought I knew who I was, but, in fact, I am not convinced I could have clearly and decisively described my own values and opinions about issues, or at least, I wasn’t confident about them. I was figuring myself out and hoping and dreaming about things for my future while my life just happened.
My 30s were fantastic and provided a new set of relationships and experiences, and though I was clearly my own person and a full-fledged adult, like my friend Valerie, I think I was concerned about making experiences, environments and life just so. I think I thought that I could control things and make things “perfect.”
Looking back, I realize that meant I didn’t experience or appreciate circumstances, people and places for exactly how they were. I suppose I had the idea that I could somehow make them better without accepting some things as being right, beautiful and perfect in their imperfection.
Now, having crossed into my 40s, and having peeled off a few more layers of my being, I hope I am getting closer to “who I really am” and to viewing the world and the many wonderful people in my life as just that—wonderful. No more striving to change things out of my control, no more insecurity from the perceived judgments of others. Now, I have a new appreciation and the clarity to realize that I, and only I, have the wisdom and power to make my life happen! It is with wonderment, excitement and enthusiasm that I welcome my 40s and look forward to my 50s and beyond.
I would love to hear what some of you think of “crossing over” and what wisdom you have to share about life in your 40s.