Today is my birthday. I am 40 years old.
So many thoughts have passed through my mind the last few weeks thinking about being 40 years old. Not that I consider 40 “old” but the fact that I have lived for 4 decades and how amazing the journey has been.
This past decade alone has been a tough but at the same time a wonderful experience for me. I have learned so much about myself. It is only now that I feel like I am becoming the person I want to be. I am more comfortable in my skin now than ever.
Getting to this point was not easy. I had to let go of a lot of things, including many people. I had to make it through some extremely tough times, including a very horrible custody battle. But at the end of all of that the greatest lesson I learned was how to be happy.
I spent a lot of my life believing that I was obligated to other people’s thoughts of me and responsible for their happiness. That I could make other people happy. I somehow believed in putting others before myself. I believed that thinking of myself first was wrong. And I went through life like that, always taking second fiddle to those who I loved. And always being disappointed that my love was never reciprocated in the same way. This behavior was not limited to just romantic relationships but family and friends as well.
I spent my time taking care of other people while totally neglecting myself. I allowed other people to take my love, my time, my efforts, my comfort, my talents, me for granted. I did this believing that by being selfless and available I was doing the “right” thing. I could not have been farther from the truth.
The problem was I had convinced myself that if I put myself first, that meant I was a selfish person. I am not. But whenever I started to think of myself first I would feel guilt. How sad it was to think that I felt guilty about taking care of myself.
Only by taking care of yourself first can you take care of others. Took me 40 years to learn that.
40 years to learn to love myself first because if I am happy, I can share that happiness. If I am fulfilled, I can share that fulfillment with others. If I love myself, I can share that love with others.
Many people never get to this point and that makes me sad. I understand why, it takes courage to love yourself when the world is telling you that you aren’t worthy of your own love. But I hope that as you read this you know that you are worthy of your own love. That it’s just fine to love yourself first. To think of yourself first. To be YOU no matter who that is.
Of course I must warn you that when you do love yourself first, and become unapologetically you, you will lose some people in your life. Not saying that it’s easy to lose people that you love, but if they don’t love you for you, it’s best to lose them.
Another lesson I have learned is to let go. If it doesn’t uplift you, let it go. Let go of things, jobs, relationships, anything that is preventing you from being YOU.
Letting go is not easy either. Fear prevents most of us from being brave enough to let go of something that harms us. I admit it is scary to just let go of something that is “important” according to the world. But when you seriously think about it, holding on to a situation that harms you a little by little each day is much worse than letting go and moving on.
I think it’s hardest to let go of people who don’t have your best interest in mind. Relationships, whether family, friends, or romantic, is probably the hardest thing to let go of because we tend to become attached to people, even when those people are harmful for us. But a good way to know if a person in your life is more harmful than good is to check how this person makes you feel. If you feel unhappy, hurt, angry, exhausted, basically if this person leaves you with negative feelings whenever you interact with them, it’s time to let go.
I started purging people out of my life years ago very slowly but the last year I purged a lot. I just realized, my wellbeing, and my happiness should not be wasted on someone that only makes me feel negative emotions.
40 years to learn that. 40 years to learn you don’t need negative people in your life.
Last little tidbit but not the least, Live Your Life.
Get out and see the world. Experience new things. Stop thinking that you can’t do something new. You can.
It is not our income, our age, our obligations, that holds us back from living the life that we really want to live, it’s our fear.
Fear is what binds our thoughts. Fear is what keeps us from taking steps to do that “crazy” thing we really want to do. Don’t be afraid to be called “crazy” because if people are calling you “crazy” there’s a good chance you are living the best life ever.
Anyway, let me go do something crazy for my birthday!
(Oh and if any of you want to get me something for my birthday => My Birthday Wish List!)