It takes us years to understand the inner workings of ourselves. It makes sense that the older you get, the more you reflect on. Is it because you have more things to reflect upon? Because you've lived that much more life? Isn't that relative though? We all live such different lives, experiencing different things, fighting different battles at different levels. Comparing one life to the other is apples and oranges. I work with a lot of younger people. Sometimes I have a tendency to try to teach them little things that could make their lives easier simply because I've already gone through it. Sometimes my unasked for advice is appreciated but I don't get angry when they look at me and dig their heels down deeper. I can look back at being that young and remember how I wanted to tell all those older people to save their breath. After all, I knew everything, right? Of course I knew nothing. In a way I sort of miss that kind of ignorance (but believe me not enough to relive my twenties). We watch the people around us, recognizing similar plights that we have faced. Instantly we want to try to shield someone else from the hardships that we went through and you can't. I tried to tell someone the other day how to do something easier and their response to me was a bit on the ugly side. I stepped back. I thought about my response. Then I just walked away, realizing how much I've changed over the years. The fiery, younger version of me would have spat back that they were ungrateful and nasty but this older version? I shrugged and wished them the best, knowing that some lessons in life we embrace at our own time in our own way. If I could say anything to that younger version of me? I would tell her to listen. There is a lot of wisdom in the words we are too stubborn to hear.
My natural tendency to mother people has often blinded me to my own needs. Over the last year, I have let myself explore parts of myself that I would run away from. I believe that as we get older, the more we need to embrace about ourselves. Hey, I'm not getting any younger and I still have a lot of things in this life I want to do but in order to do them I need to be honest with myself. I need to understand why the anxiety attacks when it does, the reasons behind the triggers. And once I understand them, I need to learn to let them go. I'm quick to let myself get overwhelmed at times but I know that's not really me. It's just over the last few years I've allowed other people to spark flames that should have never been embers. I get so concerned about what goes on around me that I forget to take a look at myself at what I'm doing. And I guess because there are so many younger people around me these days it's been sort of an eye opener. Its forced to me to evaluate my own behavior. I'm not saying that I am a bad person or that my behavior causes need for concern. These days I work my shift and go home to my family because honestly I'm not a twenty something anymore. Sure, I like a beer now and again. I enjoy having a good time but recently my priorities have become clearer. I have accepted that because my priorities have shifted where I put my energy has shifted as well. I want to help the people around me. If I can save someone from making the same mistakes I have made, absolutely I want to be a helping hand... but I get that words are only useful when someone wants to listen. It took me years to understand that. I still struggle but I understand the beauty in now more than ever.
I wish I didn't get so frustrated still but raising my daughter has given me the most important lessons in this life. Being someone's mother is such a gift. I never want to take this role for granted. She will be eighteen this year, flabbergasted that so many years went by so quickly. And if I really sit down and think about it, I understand why sometimes I fuss over the people around me. My nest will be empty soon. While I have my cats, that tiny baby girl will be out there in the world without me. So, I look at these kids around me and my motherly instincts go on high alert. I suppose, in a way, it stems from my daughter. As a parent, you learn to put your needs to the side. As a parent, you learn that you do what you need to do no matter what that entails because that child depends on you for everything. That need doesn't go away because they get older. That need just changes as they get older. I look back to my own mother who watched me fail and break and fail and break over and over again. How I must've broken her heart time and time again... but she never gave up on me. When I sit down and really look inside myself, I understand why so often I give people so many chances. I understand why I offer my hand even if I know that disappointment is what it will be filled with. I used to get angry about it. It used to break my heart. I would rather someone outright hurt me than disappointment me. I would try to help but it would just be met with such disdain and then I would be crushed. Raising a teenage daughter toughens you up. Over the last few years, she has helped me understand that sometimes we just have to let people fail. Sometimes it is the only way life is taught.
I am in my last year of my thirties. I once thought that it would be horrible to be so old. Now I just laugh. My thirties have been some of the best, most eye opening years of my life. I have lost in my thirties but there hasn't been much tragedy during this decade. So much happened in my late teens and twenties that I didn't have time to stop and think about what was really going on around me. I was learning what I was made of, what I wasn't made of, what kind of person I wanted to be. I was angry and sad and depressed and lost and just a giant mess. But my thirties? My thirties I started to understand that who I wanted to be was going to take work. Then I accepted that I may never become that person and that was OK. Whoever I became was going to be just as wonderful. You take all the newness of being an adult away and you are left with just you. You've learned how to pay your bills (mostly). You've learned what kind of people you want in your life and you know how to get rid of the toxic ones that try to stick around. You know what you stand for. You get up quicker when you get knocked down. The best lesson I have learned is that I will always be a work in progress. It's perfectly acceptable to reset, to readjust, to start over however many times I need to. And I get that it's time that taught me these lessons. My twenty year old self would have told me to bug off and I get it. I'm not mad about it. Words only have meaning if you allow yourself to hear them. Some words just become easier to hear the older you become.