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Something magical happens around 35 to 40 years of age.
Somewhere in the deep recesses of our brains, we begin to wake up from a slumber or a fog. We begin to look at the world in new ways.
For many of us, our children are now rather independent and wanting to venture out a little further from our ideals and rules. They want to set out and conquer what they view as the evils of the world. They are hell-bent on leaving their mark on society.
Much like we did at that age.
As that magic number of 40 appears in our life, we begin to realize there is more to life than endless piles of laundry and taxiing kids to their activities. We have spent our whole adult lives trying to give ourselves to something outside of ourselves. First, to the college we attended. Then to our first jobs. Then to our spouses and our kids. We have spent so much time and energy on others, trying to prove our existence, that we forgot about ourselves along the way.
I remember being a second-time mom and reading articles in magazines that told me to take time for myself when baby is sleeping. I also remember laughing at those articles, thinking they obviously did not have any children. When my baby slept, I was busy with the chores that couldn’t get done when the baby was awake. The pile of dishes in the sink. The mountains of laundry that needed to be done. Just how a small human being can accumulate so many dirty clothes is still beyond my comprehension to this day!
Time for myself was not even on my radar at that point. I had to accomplish so much in that hour that my babies were napping! Life went on while they recharged.
So we give. We give more than we realize.
Then what seems like all of a sudden, the piles of dishes have diminished. The mountains of laundry turn into molehills. Cooking dinner for one or two becomes our new reality. And we realize we have been giving to everyone but ourselves.
There is that magic day that we look around and there are no toys to pick up and we realize that we are only responsible for ourselves. And maybe those articles that told us to take time for us were right, because now what? Now who do I give myself to?
It is around this time that we start looking inward. We start to wonder what our passions are and what interests we might have. Sure we probably took some time for things we enjoyed over the last few years—but more to escape the craziness of our households than real passions that made our hearts sing.
We start to ask the question: what do I do now? Now that we can do anything we want to do without worrying about childcare or making dinner for our family, we are perplexed.
Who am I? What drives me? What makes my heart smile?—All questions that become important in our minds. We are driven to find these answers. We search the self-help section at the bookstore. We make appointments with life coaches or therapists. We start to venture into these conversations with friends.
What we see inside ourselves sometimes scares us. This strong desire to become more conscious about what drives us is bigger now than we have ever allowed it to be. Some of us get mad at ourselves for allowing our passion to just sit for all these years. Some of us get scared at just how strong that desire is. Some of us have absolutely no clue what our passions truly are.
That is when we start our awakening.
People on the outside looking at us might call this a midlife crisis rather than an awakening. We ourselves might refer to this as a crisis and not an awakening.
A crisis is defined as an unstable or even a dangerous situation—and we may feel unsteady in a world that we knew so well, a world where we had all the rules and schedules figured out. Then, it seems, all that changes overnight. We are awakening to these strange sensations we are experiencing. We are starting to recognize or become aware of something stirring in us. Something deep and real inside of us.
When I was going through my divorce, I was told I was just having a midlife crisis. It will be fine, I was told. And they were right, because I felt anything but like I was in crisis mode. I felt alive and free for the first time in I don’t know how many years! I felt like I was waking up from some deep slumber I didn’t know I had been in. I could feel my desires and passion stretching like they had been sleeping for centuries. Reaching up and out. Flexing their muscles. Screaming at me to be heard.
This all happened around that magic age of 40. So maybe 40 is the new 20. Maybe 40 is the time in our lives that we realize we are an important part of society—not to leave our marks, but to discover what gifts we have to offer.
We find softer ways to let society know we have something to offer:
We look selfish to the younger generation and our kids because we are finally taking time for us. We are no longer feeling the need to manage schedules. Now, when we take a yoga class or head to the bookstore, we are truly doing it for enjoyment and not escape. We are waking to all the possibilities of what we have and who we are.
We are now ready to take that time that the magazines warned us we would need. We are ready to let the magic of 40 begin.