I’ve got to be honest, I never imagined myself at age 43, but here I am. I thought about my twenties, fun and carefree, my thirties digging in and raising kids, but I honestly didn’t think about my forties. It just seemed so far away, a place I would probably never be.
My kids have asked me if there were televisions, cars and telephones when I was little. Yeah. They did. So, likely, they can’t imagine 43 either.
My hair is really grayer than I’d like under all the chemical dyes, and my skin doesn’t seem to want to hold its elasticity as much. I have the beginning signs of approaching menopause, my glasses are TRI-focals (woah), and I have the kind of bones that are prone to osteoporosis. So, yeah, getting older has its issues.
We could all sit around and complain about it, and there is always and eternally lots of that going around.
Related: 8 Healthy Steps To Look Younger
I’ve also done my share of complaining. But, I’m not going to throw in the towel, and I don’t believe that getting older means that I am getting worse. I might not love all the changes, but I love who I am still becoming. I’ve decided that I won’t stop developing who I am as I age. As a matter of fact, there are so many things I know now about myself that I wouldn’t trade for a second to be back in my twenty-five year old self.
Actually, being 43 isn’t the number that defines me at all.
I’ve learned that I get to define me.
I am able to say who I am and who I am becoming, and here’s how:
I get to take care of myself, listen to my body’s needs and respond. It is my responsibility to know when I need to rest, but because I can take care of myself, I also know that I feel better when I get out and move each day and eat well to fuel and nourish my body.
I get to be braver now, too. I’ve tried new things, like writing, which was something I always wanted to do, but was too afraid to try. Being brave means that I keep asking questions, keep learning and keep giving things a shot to find out who I was created to be. It means taking a few risks and being willing to fail and learn and try again.
I can be intentional about being a role model to my own children. I want to show them a woman who goes after dreams and develops herself personally and physically. I’ve tried to show them that being strong means I keep evolving. I am a work in progress, and my age can’t stop me from improving myself.
I recognize the power in admitting when I am wrong and strength in learning to apologize. Being my age doesn’t mean that I have to always be right, and hallelujah for that. Since I’m allowing myself to be more willing to admit when I’ve messed up, I find that I am gentler with others, too. I don’t expect everyone around me to be perfect, since I know that I am not.
I am learning to give my inner critic the boot. I now know that the voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough isn’t in charge of me. I am in charge of me and I can be kinder to myself. It doesn’t mean that the nagging voice totally goes away; I just am at a place where I finally am aware that it isn’t allowed to tell me who I am. This is such good news.
All these things are not about age at all, but about being. It is about being who I am and an awareness of the ways in which I still want to grow.
Earlier this year, I sprained my ankle snow tubing. I got some, “Tsk tsks,” and a few people shook their heads and said it served me right because I was too old.
And, I agreed for a couple of days. It was a high ankle sprain and I couldn’t walk down the stairs without groaning. What was I thinking? Stupid me, I should never have gone down that hill. I got what I deserved, I thought. I had a little pity party with myself.
Except, I remembered: I sprained my ankle the first time when I was 17 years old with a high kick on the high school dance line. I fell to the ground and my mom and I drove to the emergency room for x-rays to make sure it wasn’t broken because it swelled and purpled like nobody’s business.
No one told me then I was too old.
So, while I know that injuries might be slower in healing at 43 than they were at 17, I also know that I am not remotely ready to start giving up.
My age is just a number because I want to live fully and keep growing and there is no age limit on that.