When the woman was asked why she covered her gorgeous freckled face in thick pancake make-up she replied; “I was teased about my freckles as a child.” The woman is now in her forties. Another woman when questioned about her militant avoidance of grooming and style, explained that no one ever complimented her until she was 9 years old. She too was in her forties. Habit, is habit. We all have them, some are more charming than others. Kissing the spouse before leaving the house? Charming. Leaving the bathroom door open and carrying on conversation, not so charming. But enough about me.
The issue with behaviors that harken back to childhood is that they are rarely helpful in moving us forward. That is not to say that our childhood and adolescence are not part of us, they are. But I’m not sure we want to take our behavioral cues from our 9 year old selves. The point of aging (and yes, I’m told there is a point) is that we presumably get a little smarter with each passing year. We learn from our own mistakes and successes, we learn through our relationships with others, and we learn from witnessing life. By the time we are in our late twenties we know what “I’ll call you” means and not to take a craigslist ad at face value. Somewhere in our thirties we might discover that the operative term in “work friend” is “work” and we are all extremely expendable in the workplace. We may also discover that we don’t in fact “have a type,” but goodness, love and laughter comes in all shapes and sizes. In our forties, it is my fervent hope that we learn to block out all the internal criticism (well almost all.) We see media for what it is; photo-shopped, laugh-tracked means to sell us something, and stop comparing ourselves to what we’re being shown. We realize that we are never going to be as young as we are right this very moment. We stop wasting another minute being stuck and silence the mental loop of childhood indignities.
Recently a friend shared a story with me. During a work crisis, my friend kindly drove a colleague from the office. During the trip the woman regaled my friend with stories of how her mother ruined her life. In the dark of the car, held captive, he listened to tale after tale of maternal slights. That colleague was in her late seventies. Her entire life (thus far) has been dedicated to keeping that hurt alive. If you believe that this life, the one you are in right at this moment, is the only one you get, I suggest not wasting another moment. Choose happiness. Grab it with both hands and don’t let go.