I have one of those significant birthdays coming up this year… the kind that makes you stop and take stock of where you are and how far you’ve come… or not.
I’ve been determined not to be bothered by this birthday; I tell myself it’s just a number. To be honest with you I mostly just can’t believe that number even applies to me. How can I be Forty (almost) when I still feel like a lost, naïve child inside?
(And what the heck am I doing sharing that thought when I should be out declaring my expertise and confidence and can do-ness to the world? Nevertheless, I’m going to risk losing face and share my vulnerable moment for the sake of the story.)
Actually, my thoughts have done some pretty extensive wandering over the last few days until I remembered:
I have a lifetime’s experience in comparing myself to other people (it’s a built-in self destruct mechanism that kicks in if I ever start to think I might actually be getting good at something.) And I’m doing it again.
Ok so where was I? Ah yes – feeling like a lost child. Ah, oh, and that birthday…
Here I am feeling a little weird as I compare this big old number with how young (insecure, childlike, playful, silly) I feel inside. And I start thinking about how grown up I should be on reaching this kind of figure. And how much I should have achieved, and how backwards my career path has been, and how far it feels I have to go to get to where I’d like to be…
Backtrack just a little more.
I’m thinking this as I’m standing in the front garden of our new home, in a dream location surrounded by 6000ft mountains – topped with snow, even in June. My fella and I have surpassed our savings target and now get to stay here – forever if we want. I’m busy building my own business, doing exactly what I’d like to do, totally on my own terms.
Oh. Not that bad then, really.
So where did I get the idea that nothing has been achieved?
Our culture has placed all sorts of strange conditions on our lives in relation to our age, with milestones like 40 being laden with a ‘beginning of the end’ sort of feeling that I am determined to resist. I could compare myself to Dave Ursillo, 26, who has written and published a book on a subject that I’m only just exploring and unravelling for myself at this “advanced age”; or maybe to someone who has achieved public recognition, CEO status and earns 5 times more than me. But would I have wanted to live their lives, to be someone other than me to get to where they are?
Your internal journey is your success. Loving yourself is an achievement. Learning from your failures, overcoming your fears… these things make you stronger, braver, more knowledgeable than the person who never failed, never faced the same struggles. You are so much stronger, more capable, more successful than you have probably ever let yourself believe.
No matter your age, your income, your qualifications, number of children, size of your house… there’ll always be someone who has more than you.
Another person’s success can only lessen yours if you allow it.
Comparisons need to stop right here. You don’t have less, you have different.
How does that change things for you?