Even if I want to, there is no way that I can hide the fact that I am a worrier by nature.
Years ago, a former boss once joked that he never worried because I did enough worrying for both of us.
He was right.
But, as I have gotten older, I’ve started to worry less. Turning 36 was a big milestone for me. While many see the big 3-0 as a milestone birthday, mine was not. Truth be told, I was happy to leave my 20s behind. Plus, my life really hadn’t changed all that much that when I went from 29 to 30.
However, 36 was big. I was now a parent with a house, a mortgage and all other sorts of adult responsibilities. Also, I was now officially on the wrong size of 35 and closer to 40 than I was to 30. I could no longer say I was a “kid” anymore nor could I expect to walk into a room and expect to be the youngest one there.
While I wouldn’t lie and say that I am one of those souls who is totally unfazed at the thought of getting older, there are things I enjoy about growing older. One of the biggest benefits is being less afraid of certain things.
While I will probably always be a worrier, there are some things I have been able to stop worrying about:
1. Keeping up with the Joneses.
Back at the height of the property bubble, I worked for a mortgage broker and later went on to work as an assistant to a real estate attorney. I was amazed to learn how many people used their homes like giant credit cards and were bankrolling lavish lifestyles on lines of credit. I’m not exaggerating when I say that some of my clients lived in multimillion dollars homes, but had a net worth of zero.
Those experiences taught me that many people may pretend to be something that they aren’t, but I am not one of them.
Plus, the older I get the more I see that the old adage is true: money cannot buy happiness.
Granted, money is necessary to live, but chasing after it in the hopes it will make you happy tends only to end in disappointment. It’s not something I would have believed had I not seen and experienced it myself.
I personally know several former “trophy spouses” (men and women), and trust me when I say when you marry for money, you usually end up earning it.
2. My body isn’t good enough.
I struggled with body image issues throughout my teens and 20s which, no doubt, were exasperated by my choice of boyfriends many of whom liked nothing more than to point out my various flaws.
Now that I’m older and have seen a number of family members struggle with various health issues: cancer, diabetes, etc., I realize that I am very lucky to have a healthy body—period.
Plus, while I am never going to look like a supermodel, I feel that my body looks pretty good considering I’ve had a child.
In any case, my appearance does not define who I am.
3. People don’t like me.
I am not immune to what people think of me. As I shared, a recent falling out with someone I thought was my friend left me feeling upset and bewildered.
However, I no longer think that people sit around judging me one way or another, much less think of reasons not to like me. Most people are usually too concerned about their own lives to worry about someone else’s.
For those that do care, it’s all the more better that I stopped worrying about #1.
4. Life will stop be interesting or exciting once I reach a certain age, or I have to have it all figured out by a certain age.
There are few things I am absolutely sure about, but this one I feel I can with nearly 100 percent certainty that the above will never be the case.
Life is always interesting, even it’s for not the reasons you think it will be. I do editing work for a man who is 82, and he has shown me that if anything, life can become even more busy and interesting in the golden years.
Likewise, there is probably never going to be a point where I or anyone has life all figured out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. If anything, it’s that uncertainty that is one of the major factors in keeping life interesting.
While I still worry about a lot of things, the above are a few things that I have been able to put aside as I have gotten older. Hopefully, the list will increase as I grow older and (hopefully) gain more knowledge.
Oscar Wilde once said that youth was wasted on the young.
While there may be some truth in that, the fact is I could not have laid aside these and other worries without the benefit of hard-won experience.
Therefore, I tend to think I spent my youth pretty well, if only for that.
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Editor: Cat Beekmans