So on Sunday I turn 46.
I seriously don’t know how that happened.
In some ways, I still feel about 28 … however I realise that for all my immaturity, bad dress sense and obsession with stupid, there are signs that I’m not.
No, I’m not talking about my son.
I’m talking about things like my declining eyesight.
Given it’s always been bad [I have 12% vision in one eye] I’m fast approaching Mr Magoo standards.
Then there’s my stamina. In the old days, I could survive on 4 or 5 hours sleep. No, seriously. However now, when I wake up the first thing I look forward to is being able to go back to sleep that night. Then I rush for copious amounts of coffee to get me through the next 5 minutes.
But it’s not all physical collapse, one other thing that has happened is the realisation that at 45, I don’t have to be so considerate to others anymore.
Now some of you may be wondering what the hell I’m going on about, given I’ve always been one to call a spade a spade. And I have. However there have been occasions in my life where I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken up. I’m not talking about big issues – I’m perfectly good at dealing with those – I’m talking about those small conversations where things are casually thrown into the mix but you let it pass because you don’t want to look like you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.
But here’s the thing, it’s those small things that have the potential to derail you down the line.
It’s those small things that can lead to big things affecting who you are and what you do.
It’s those small things that the people behind them often use to justify their later actions by saying, “I mentioned this to you and you didn’t say anything”.
But now, I don’t feel the need to keep quiet.
I don’t feel it wrong to speak up and elevate that throwaway comment into the real issues being discussed.
And I have to say, it’s kind of liberating.
That doesn’t mean I’m a rude prick when I do it, nor does it mean I want to make any difference of opinion a major issue … it’s just that I’ve realised that if something unsettles me, I have a right to talk about it or challenge it.
I admit there have still been times where I’ve felt myself slipping into my old ways, but now, instead of letting it go, I act on it.
Recently I was in a situation where someone was saying something about a colleague I respect. On face value it seemed relatively small, but the implication of what they were saying was very bad for the person in question.
So I asked for more clarification on their point.
And asked them to help me understand how they came to their conclusion.
Then informed them “this is not how this will go down” and highlighted their perspective was based on opinion not fact so they need to share some of the blame rather than own all of the accusation.
And it felt good.
Not purely because I protected my colleague – though that was nice too – but because I felt I’d been true to myself.
By speaking up at the exact moment it happened – rather than wishing I had or worse, only realising the implication of what had been said a few hours after the event – it made me feel sharp, alert and living in the present. It gave me a sense I was actively looking out for myself which, in a weird way, made me feel like I was more in control of my own life.
Yes, I know this sounds mad but it did.
Plus there was the added benefit that I’d sent out a subtle statement of what I will and will not tolerate to the other party, which can only be a good thing in terms of standards and expectations.
Look, I get I’m making a small thing sound like a big thing … but I’ve allowed too many of those ‘invisible, mini bombs’ to go off in my life and finally being at a stage where I feel completely at ease with dealing with them is a revelation to me. A genuine revelation.
So happy birthday to me. Age might be a bitch physically, but it’s liberating emotionally.
PS: For the record, the photo in this post is the uber-birhtday cake Jill made for me last year. Isn’t it great. It’s even the actual size of the Birkenstocks I wear. Hopefully this year she’ll make me the left foot Birkenstock so I’ll have a pair.
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