On the verge of turning 40

I turn 40 years old next month. It’s coming fast and I was expecting to be a different person by the time this mark in my timeline arrived. I had this vision of being fit, healthier, confident, financially stable and then I realize…this is me we’re talking about! If I haven’t changed some of my current habits, the rest of my garbage will not miraculously change just because I’m one year older! Sheesh. *illusion shattered*

Anyone who has made it past 40 has told me, “Oh, you have time!” or “You’re just a baby!”. Little do they know, I am panicking inside because I do not feel like I have “time” to do what I want to do. Of course, this is ridiculous because I’m not dead yet. I don’t plan to be dead for quite a while. (My oldest and I have already planned my 100th and his 80th birthday party which we intend to attend together. Honestly, I just have to make it to 102 so I can attend my youngest’s 80th birthday too!) My doctor started med school when he was 40. Thanks to HONY, I read about Calvin Alexander Ramsey who returned to writing after the attacks on September 11, 2001 changed his world. He was 51 at the time. I can find articles about many people who found success and even fame later in life. Then there is Anna Mary Robertson Moses or “Grandma Moses” who started painting at age 70. Reading these stories give me hope.

I’m also inspired by folks who have come from little and have worked their way up. Young clothing designers who took a chance and didn’t give up. Or the YouTube personality who has worked his ass off to build his business and touch lives. People with vision who work hard give me hope that my idealistic beliefs are not wrong or wishful thinking.

I probably need to just chill out a little.

There is still time left to learn how to dance. Who knows? Perhaps I will get to show my art in a gallery someday (I dream of it). I might even have the chance to travel alone to an unfamiliar place, just for fun. I may get an opportunity to speak or perform in front of an audience. I might find the courage to let people hear me sing (not just through the walls of my shower). Maybe I will be able to publish that children’s book. Perhaps my writing will improve and I won’t be so critical or self conscious of being judged for my thoughts. Perhaps I will actually find myself in a version of that dream career I’ve imagined.

Maybe the uncertainty of my path will not bother me so much as time rolls on. Perhaps the angst I feel now will not feel as torturous as it does now. I hope I can find my groove and relax into what I’m meant to be “when I grow up”.

Confronting confrontation

Whenever I’m stumped about something, I get off by myself and dive deep into my own mind. Sometimes I toss my ideas out and see what others think. Other folk’s perspective is valuable especially when I feel I’m getting a bit lost. I get frustrated when I can’t seem to figure things out. Writing helps. This month’s conundrum? Confrontation and my fear/aversion to it.

I met with a friend of mine and also chatted with my ladies online about confrontation recently. Several of us share this aversion to confrontation. Last week, my fear of any tense encounter was starting to feel crippling. I encountered a few angry folks the past few weeks and I was not able to fix anything for them. I was a recipient of their frustration and I could not ease the situations(s) or aide.

Too many encounters like this leave me feeling useless and questioning my abilities. I felt weak. I felt beaten up by other’s actions and words. When I feel weak, I am not at my best and my fear grows bigger. I love helping people but I was sincerely starting to think “surely,there must be another field for me”! I thought a bit on this but came up empty handed and out of ideas. Working in healthcare, mental health or any other field which holds my interest there is a common component. We meet people when they are at their worst or weakest. I am drawn to fields where the goal is to respond to people with empathy and strive to understand their perspective. The goal is to show them our humanity in order to relate and repair whatever ails. I enjoy being someone who lifts up others.Whenever I encounter an angry person and I am able to help rectify something or calm that person down, I feel victorious.

Fear is a frustrating thing for me in that is holds me back if I let it. I get angry at my fears but fear is a very human response to uncertainty.

For me, fear and anger are related emotions whether it is coming from someone else or within yourself. I think I’ve written on anger in the past but I will mention it again. At times I am able to see deeper into someone’s anger. I can see they are truly scared, frustrated or they feel lost and helpless. Anger is just a mask for a myriad of other less acceptable emotions. Anger looks like power but it isn’t. Think about the riots that have happened recently. Those people are angry because they feel they have not been heard. They feel injustice deeply and have felt powerless for a long time. Right or wrong, the face of their actions is anger. The root of their anger is much more complex. The rioting may be an extreme example of confrontation but the elements which cause rioting are the same as dealing with an angry person in the workplace.

When I was young, my parents were harsh disciplinarians. There was no discussing to correct our actions. It was the belt first and if we tried to reason or ask questions, it was considered to be sass or arguing. I remember being in grade school, my dad towering over us with his chest puffed out. There was always the fear of a spanking and we usually got one. I remember relief when I had evaded a potential spanking but I lived in fear of the next time they got angry. Spankings continued well into the age where parents start using logic and direction vs corporal punishment. I was scared of my father until I was thirteen. I’ve told him this and his response was “good, it kept you in line”. I feel my folks will never understand how much my early experiences have effected me as an adult.

As an adult, the fear of confrontation did not leave me. I’ve encountered disgruntled people at every job I’ve held. Some are nicer than others. Some you can reason with and others you cannot. However, the feelings of that scared five year old child has never left. Every time I am able to defuse a tense situation with a patient, I feel a bit stronger and more capable. Too many tense situations in a week make me feel like crying in a corner with a blanket over my head.

Facing my fear of confrontation is just one of my many things I’m working on, little by little. Each challenge/fear takes time and the only solution is to keep moving forward, no matter how uncomfortable and difficult it is. I hope I will have achieved “bad-ass” status by the time I reach my nineties.