Originally published September 12, 2018
This is the blog post where my hoarding pays off.
It’s interesting, as this milestone birthday approaches, to look around and realize you aren’t necessarily what you thought you’d be when you were younger.
Or, that you are the things you swore to avoid.
I will say, for starters, that I would kill for those pants I apparently was wearing when I was 7. I might pair them with a black sweater and a nice pair of wedge heels, but I love a good flare.
For posterity’s sake, I thought I’d pull out a scrapbook that includes my earliest schoolwork and take an inventory to see if my current self is on track with what my past self thought of my future self …
Given this historical data, I loved ice cream enough to put that front and center. And my favorite food was tocos. I’ll have to check with my mom, but if that means tacos, well, that aged nicely. And I loved the mailman. Hmm.
I do remember that when I was really little, I wanted to be a zoologist. Mostly, I just wanted to feed and pet the animals. Then, after being that good friend in middle school that you could talk to and was told would make a really good listener, career aspirations morphed into psychology and psychiatry. But eww – math and science. Not my thing.
It was a junior year, Journalism classroom viewing of “All the President’s Men” that turned me on to reporting for a career. Of course, one year of that after college, being paid $5 an hour, and I was selling my soul to the corporate world, joining an insurance organization’s PR shop.
What’s more interesting, though, looking back on “When I grow up” isms, are the intangibles – the promises you make to yourself that as you age realize were naïve to put out there at all.
- I’m never going to yell at my kids
- I’m never going to dye my hair
- I’m never going to ground anyone
- I’m never going to eat broccoli
- I’m gonna watch whatever I want on TV
- I’ll never listen to the contemporary music radio station
- I’ll never have a bedtime
- I will die before I pull on something with an elastic waist.
- I will always have a perm
I’m sure there’s some book somewhere on personal growth that has the scientific chops to accurately describe how we age and what each decade is certain to bring when it comes to self-awareness. Oprah probably has a web series complete with recipes (Green smoothies!) and fashion advice (White t-shirts!).
I know for me, my teens and 20s were mostly centered around learning about myself. Who I was, what did I like (turns out I love love love broccoli) and where my moral center was. And while I harbor zero regrets at marrying young, I will freely admit that becoming someone’s spouse that early on makes learning about yourself slightly more challenging.
The 30s were all about the kids. All of it. Nearly every minute of it. I’m not lying. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and again, no regrets, but I paid so little attention to myself I am not even sure I would recognize my 30-year-old self, if not for the child or children attached to my hip in photos from those days. I quit my job, I was home full time, and I spent an inordinate amount of that time catering to my oldest’s special needs. On the plus side, I had a strong circle of supportive friends, with which I watched a lot of Oprah, drank a lot of good wine, had many many laughs and strategized many fantasy attempts to try out for The Amazing Race. I discovered I loved to plant a garden but not always to water it. I grew to love running. I tried knitting. I liked to volunteer. I expanded my repertoire of holiday cookies. My family was my everything.
And now the 40s have come and almost gone. And it’s still been mostly kids. Kids, husband and work. But I also learned that I really do love the outdoors, and especially the great outdoors, as in Arizona, and Colorado, and Wyoming, and the Cape. I learned I am capable of balancing work and family. I learned it’s OK to say “No” once in a while. I learned that kids today are still as embarrassed of their parents singing out loud in the the car as we were when we rode in the back seat. I learned that actuality doesn’t always meet expectations, and that dreams sometimes stay just that. I learned to adjust and keep moving forward.
So, in deference to that “all about me” sheet from more than 40 years ago, I can say:
- I still love ice cream and tacos
- My favorite person is my husband (oh all right, my kids too)
- My favorite color is Spartan green
- My favorite toy is probably my iPad
What is your next decade going to teach you?
Today’s recommendation: A throwback to my first favorite book, “A Wrinkle in Time.” No review, just know that it is a magical read.