Monday, January 4, 2010

They Say It's Your Birthday....

Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you're exactly the same. ~ Audrey Hepburn

I think far too much hoopla surrounds birthdays. I’m not just saying that because I’m celebrating one today. ‘A big one’, some call it. It’s my fortieth one, and I’m quite happy it’s here.

People, particularly women, I believe, get too hooked on a number. I know a lot of gals who break down upon turning 40. Perhaps they feel as if they’ve lost their looks, youth, vitality, or just lost out on some grand opportunity that they’ll never stumble upon again. We live in a youth-obsessed society: fashion…entertainment…it’s all geared for a younger crowd. I’m fine with it, though. I’ve no desire to dress like a teen, fill my face with toxins, and attempt to act younger than my years. (Side note: I’ve no problem with Botox; in fact, I may take the plunge – ever so gingerly – someday…just not now! I also don’t buy Demi Moore’s recent proclamation that she’s never had any work done. If you’re going to do it, own up to it!)

A number doesn’t change anything. A friend called me the day after her fortieth birthday party in tears: she felt the same as she did before her birthday. “I just thought things would be a lot different,” she cried. “Why?” I asked. “Well, I don’t know. It just seemed like a big deal, and everyone makes a big deal of it.”

And that is where many of us lose sight. We naturally assume that something magical happens once we reach a certain age. We fail to realize that we must make the magic happen.

Whoever, in middle age, attempts to realize the wishes and hopes of his early youth, invariably deceives himself. Each ten years of a man's life has its own fortunes, its own hopes, its own desires. ~ Goethe

Regret, too, rears its ugly head for some of us on our birthday. We fear we’ve missed out, that ‘life is passing us by,’ and such. That’s why I tell every twenty-something I know to get out and get to living. Have your fun. Make your mistakes. Wait a while to settle down. Get it all out of your system. I certainly had my fun, but I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for anything.

With experience comes confidence, and many of us – again, particularly women- struggle with confidence. We’re too concerned with the outside stuff (how we look, what we own, how others’ feel about us) to take a look inward and really reflect on who we are and what we want out of life. That’s why I tell every thirty-something I know to settle down now, focus on what you truly want out of life, and get your priorities straight.

The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it. ~ Schopenhauer

I’ve been incredibly lucky these past forty years. My parents raised me with a strong work ethic and taught me the concept of gratitude. I’ve pursued and even found success with various careers (radio disc jockey, television news producer, school teacher, image consultant). I married a wonderful man who has positively influenced me in more ways than I can count. I’ve learned from some amazing mentors, and I’ve learned an awful lot, too, from people who bungle even the simplest task. I’ve traveled to oh-so-many amazing places (England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, to name a few). Not bad for a girl from Dimmitt, TX!

So I must say, these last 40 years have proven to be quite a ride. I’m quite excited to see what the next 40 years will bring!

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