FITTING INTO BOXESI shared a quote a little while ago about not shrinking myself anymore. I'm not sure if it's a generational issue, or a woman's issue or a personal issue, but I know a lot of us do our best to fit into the boxes other people create for us. There are a variety of reasons why we do it, the need to keep others happy, or to meet with their approval, to avoid causing upset or distress, to be liked or to be accepted. It has always been a driving force in my life and sometimes I think it harks back to being the oldest child, where responsibility and people pleasing come with the role.
Now that I've reached midlife I am finding that I can make decisions based on what suits me and what meshes with how I see my life unfolding. Some of those decisions bring out comments and even criticisms from others, but I'm learning to let those remarks roll over me and just get on with living the life I've chosen and I'm working out what matters to me (not to everyone else). I've finally realized that it is the problem of the person finding difficulties with me, rather than my problem - and that is quite liberating.
Starting a blog has brought with it a range of comments from friends and family who just don't understand how much it fulfills me. I'm always conscious of how much my blogging overflows from here onto my personal facebook page, or into my conversations. When I mentioned to my mother about how many people comment on or view my blog, she replied "there must be a lot of people out there with nothing much to do with their time." Hardly a compliment about something that I found to be so enriching in my life.
Other bloggers totally get the whole idea of putting your thoughts down and interacting with other people all over the world and sharing ideas and encouragement. A few of my friends "get it" but a lot of the people around me don't have any comprehension of how I can find this so rewarding. But I've come to see that I don't need to justify myself to my non-blogging friends or give my reasons - no, I can just smile and ignore the lack of understanding and get on with what I'm loving to do.
LIVING IN THE "NOW"
I've also made big changes in how I look at my life now and with what the future holds. I've spent way too long worrying about how things will be when I retire or if work slows down, or if the economy goes bust, and all those financial concerns. Then one day I just thought to myself...."you know what? I don't care. I'm living for now and not for the distant future." That freed me up to live in the present and to enjoy what is going on in my life now, rather than worrying about the completely unknown future.
It has given me the courage to change jobs and work the amount of time I want to, rather than the amount of time I thought I needed to. It has meant not worrying about what is in my superannuation or retirement plan. I know that we've lived carefully enough and put aside enough that we won't be living under a bridge (hopefully!) so why waste the next ten years or more scrabbling in a job to try to put aside a few more thousand for a slightly cushier retirement?
Plenty of people don't understand that this is how I want to live my life. They are working like beavers and squirreling away everything they can (or spending it as fast as they earn it) and telling me that their plan is so much better than mine. I know which I prefer and I know how I want my life to unfold now. What would have worried me a few years ago now washes over me and those opinions and comments don't carry the same weight and heft that they used to.
It's so freeing to live my own life and take responsibility for my own decisions and to leave others to their own devices. When you don't worry so much about what others think you are open to so many more choices and the future looks sunny indeed!