Sometimes it’s really hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that I am 37 and a grown up. Those times when my mother used to say “I still feel 17” boggled my young mind and now … make perfect sense.
When I was young, I had complete faith that all those people older than me, the ones who got up, and put their work day best clothes on, and slogged to the office and cooked dinner when they got home at night — they knew.
I’m not sure what I thought they knew, but I knew they knew it. They knew how to adult. They had learned the secret, and they were busy getting on with being adults. This secret that I was convinced existed, absolutely terrified me. I was completely sure that I wouldn’t get it, and would forever be in a dark fog of ignorance.
It’s taken me a long time to figure out that there is no secret code. There isn’t a secret answer that allows people to live successfully as grown-ups.
Highly disappointing and deflating.
I say that, and then my brain immediately contradicts itself. There is a secret — if you want to call it that. It’s called ‘self worth.”
I found myself giving the admin in my office some advice as I left yesterday. I smiled at her, and said — “Nothing is really that hard. Just take it one step at a time. Look at everything as its own thing so as not to get overwhelmed. You’ll be okay — once you do it, once you start, it will feel a lot less intimidating.”
That’s the advice I’d give to a young me. That nothing is as scary once you start. Nothing is so difficult, so complicated, that you can’t get through it one step at a time. Looking at things in groups make them seem insurmountable, but nothing is impossible. If you believe in yourself, believe in your innate ability to work through things, puzzle things out, you will be okay.
Life has not been overly kind or forgiving for me. I’ve fallen down a lot (with and without the help of Multiple Sclerosis). But I’ve gotten back up, dusted myself off, straightened my ponytail (one of my new favorite sayings) and forged on ahead. As I’ve done that, I’ve grown to really trust myself. I know, even in the toughest moments, in the darkest, scariest times, that I can count on myself. I’m tough, and even-keeled and smart. I will get through it.
And slowly, I’ve built my self-worth. And I believe in it. I don’t think I’m perfect — FAR from it. But I believe I am solid and capable. I believe I deserve to be treated fairly and with generosity of spirit. I believe in the choices I’ve made, the person I’ve chosen to become. Feeling that way makes me feel as though I can do anything if I just put my mind to it. (Maybe I’ve been listening to Anne of Green Gables too much recently — I hear her voice in my words).
Having this new appreciation for myself has made me realize that self-worth is the foundation, the secret. Self worth allows you to go when you need to go, stay when you are willing to stay. Self worth – I think – is what defines successful adults. So it took me 37 years to get here. I’m okay with that.