In 60 days, I will be turning the big 4-0. It’s hard for me to believe, but at the same time I am excited. I’m not sure if excited is even a strong enough word. You could not have told my 20 year old self that turning 40 would be a source of excitement. Back then, 40 just seemed, what’s the word…OLD. No one could have convinced me that I would feel young, energetic, be taking on brand new endeavors, and looking forward to creating brand new experiences and going on new adventures. But here I am, about to turn 40 and feeling blessed and expectant. Here are a few reasons why.
- I’m still alive!!! If you’re my age or older, I know you completely relate to this. By this time in life, you have become more than aware of your own mortality. You’ve seen friends and loved ones pass away suddenly or tragically or you’ve heard numerous stories of regret form older folks, and you begin to realize just how fragile life is and just how important each new day is. God still has me here for a purpose, and I want to fulfill it. No time to waste!
- I’ve accomplished quite a few things that I set out to do or pictured for my life. I have a college degree, I’m happily married with some pretty awesome kids, own a very nice, well-decorated home (thanks to hubby), I’ve almost finished paying off my car (just 6 months to go), I teach children every day and feel like I am doing a pretty good job with not only teaching but also inspiring, I’ve started my own photography business, and now I have my blog (I’ve always dreamed of being a writer). I’ve gotten closer to Christ over this past year which has completely changed the direction of my life, and I have a host of family and friends that I can spend quality time with or lean on in times of trouble. These accomplishments and so many others make me proud of the woman I have become and all that I’ve gotten done all before the age of 40.
- Last, but not least, I have big dreams for my future, and some of them have only come to be because of the wisdom that I’ve acquired over the past 40 years. Twenty years ago… ten years ago…okay, five years ago, I would not have been able to envision the plans that I now have for my life. I was in a different place with different concerns. Just five years ago I was a divorced, single mom who had just started dating my current husband, I was renting a house with my brother and his family, and struggling to make ends meet. But look at my life now. It has been nothing but the grace of God and the wisdom and experience that come with age that have gotten me to this place and has me inspired to do even more. Also, much of what held me back was fear, but not any more. I’m kicking fear to the side and working hard to uncover the woman I have yet to become!
I’ve decided to love myself
starting with the inside
‘cause then I know
loving the outside will come easily.
No longer will I be spending
long periods of time in front of the mirror
trying in vain to morph my real image
into some virtual image that has been
implanted in my head.
Contemplating crazy ways to change myself
into what I’m “supposed” to look like
what the world has told me it takes
to be considered a “beautiful” woman.
I’m going to love myself
from the inside, out
starting with what I like to call
my natural soul.
My soul that hasn’t been bleached or plucked or waxed or permed or arched or shaved or clipped or dyed or painted or lipoed or Botoxed…
that part of me that hasn’t been
“fixed” or made to fit the image of an ideal woman.
I’m going to love myself
from the inside, out
that part of me that reflects
the real me
that part of me that can never be changed
that part of me that hasn’t been touched
by stereotypes and unrealistic expectations.
I’m going to love myself
from the inside out
me and my natural soul.
It is human nature to want to be liked and to be accepted. That in itself is not a problem. The problem with the need to be accepted comes when the validation that we get from others begins to shape who we think we are and how valuable we feel we are. Sometimes this is innocent enough. For example, your close friends constantly shower you with compliments and “You, go girls!” They lift you up when you are down and when you are around them you feel on top of the world. It’s healthy to have people around you who see the good in you and make sure you know it and feel it. In contrast, when someone who we deem as “important” to our lives whether it’s a friend, spouse, or boss tells us over and over that what we’re doing, what we’re saying, how we’re living, or the way we dress is not good enough, we may begin to feel that this is true. We may begin to feel that as long as we can win their favor, as long as we can keep them happy with us, then we are worth something. We may even begin to question our abilities and our purpose. We neglect our dreams and our passions and our ideas trying to be the “right” person for someone else. We beat ourselves up if a review or evaluation comes back negative. We instantly regret a decision if it isn’t met by a bunch of head nodding and words of affirmation.
But you are so much more than what one person or even one hundred people can tell you about yourself! God did not make a mistake when He created you!
When we are kids, the biggest part of our lives is having acceptance from our friends and fitting in with the crowd; it is rare to find a confident teen who doesn’t care what his/her classmates think about him/her. Being different is almost like having a disease; kids go out of their way to avoid you, as if your differences are contagious. No one wants to be “that” kid at whom everyone stares and points and laughs.
However, as we grow older, our lives should begin to change. With age comes wisdom. We should start to acknowledge, accept and appreciate our uniqueness, those traits that make us stand out from the crowd, that make us who we are. We should be standing on tables or even shouting from rooftops, “Look at me! See why I’m awesome!” We should never let someone else’s opinion of us to make or break us. We have to become strong enough in ourselves, the person that God has created us to be so that no one or nothing can shake us. Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way saying that we should not be open to constructive criticism when someone is truly trying to help us become a better person or become better at our jobs. The opinions that I am referring to are those that are meant to belittle you or to make you conform to what someone else thinks you should be just because it will make them more comfortable or make them feel in control. I am referring to those opinions that tell you that in order to be a part of my world, to be accepted by me, you must be like this or be like that. I am talking about those opinions that have you questioning your intelligence, your self-esteem, your beauty, your worth. (more…)