It must be common for people around "my age" to start bucket lists. Maybe it's because 50 is such a definitive number - it does sound kind of old - half century, five decades, halfway to 100 .... whatever you want to call it. Not to mention I have AARP rolling out the welcome mat for me and tantalizing me with a free tote bag just for joining.
I had a bucket list there for awhile, but already it's changed. I think I did a lot of growing during my 50th year - growing that I would have like to have accomplished in my 30s or 40s, but alas, I am and always have been a late bloomer. Shit, I'm still waiting for boobs.
One of my biggest problems with myself is finding the right balance between what I want to do and what I should do (as "expected" by society, family, social circle, etc.) I managed to work on this quite a bit this past year and am slowly finding a happy medium. I've bowed out of dating situations because they didn't seem right to me, even though they may have looked good on paper (or to other people.) I've stopped forcing myself to be social when I don't feel like it - I've come to the comfortable realization that I am a person who needs alone time - solitude. Alone and lonely are two very different things, and lonely comes less and less now, which is a good thing.
I've stopped caring so much about what other people think, and realizing that really, they're not thinking about me at all. I danced in public this summer. I can't remember the last time I did that. And I didn't care. And I had fun. No one whispered about me the next day (to my knowledge, anyway.) The world didn't end, and instead of being mortified, I have some great memories of dancing like no one was watching - and they probably weren't.
I got two tattoos. It's weird, I never had any desire to get one, and had strongly prohibited my sons from getting any. Hypocrite? Meh. They're old enough to have an opinion about them and I'm old enough to know I didn't do anything rash. Both have very significant meaning to me: "I am the storm" is from the quote, "The devil whispered to me, 'You cannot withstand the storm', and I whispered back to the devil, 'I am the storm.'" I love this quote and I have it on my fridge and my bathroom mirror. I look at it more than I've ever referenced any quote. When I'm feeling like I'm a failure or I'm about to get swallowed by life, I look at my wrist and it makes me feel powerful. And no, I don't care what anyone thinks about it.
The other is a typewriter with the words, "be curious". This was the answer to a question I posed to a wilderness guide in 2014 in Durango, Colorado. I was getting ready to see my son for the first time in months and had so many questions, but didn't want to interrogate him. I'll never forget her simple answer of "Be curious." I think about it all the time and it's helped me in a number of situations - kids, work, interviews - it applies to a lot of things in life. It extends toward my fingers since that's where all my words seem to come from (the good ones, anyway.)
Another thing that happened this year is my kids grew up. Right before my eyes. I say this with trepidation, but I'll reach into my 12-step bag and say they are doing well TODAY. I have what I consider incredible relationships with both my boys and I am so freaking proud of them right now I could just burst. And I'm not proud of them for some fancy job they got or how much money they make or the 4.0 GPA they have ... I'm proud of them because they're damn good young men. I'm proud of them because they're making progress. They're moving forward. They love me and they tell me so. I don't know when I've ever been able to say that, but it makes me smile just typing it.
I'm slowly figuring out relationships and how they fit into my world. I've stopped dating because I should date or people tell me to date or I think I want a date when I really just fucking hate dating. It just sucks the life out of me - and the confidence, and the hope. I've learned what is really important in a relationship - to me, anyway - and what isn't worth throwing one away. That's a huge step for me, and once again, it's taken me 34 years, if you count from the time I had my first date. That's a long time to figure out what works for you when it comes to the opposite sex. But again, I'm a bit of a slow starter.
I'm not going to say 50 was nifty - it definitely had its ups and downs, like any year has with any person. But good and bad, I used every experience as a learning one, which makes me feel a lot more prepared as I dive headfirst into this new decade.
I'm juggling a lot of balls in the air here, as we all are. When I drop one, it's hard for me to keep the others in play - they all seem to fall. I need to work on that this year, too - and learn that if somebody or something throws another ball at me that I can just add it to the mix and keep on juggling.
So, my words of wisdom for anyone out there still trying to make sense of it all? First of all, you'll always be trying to make sense of it all. Second, sometimes things have a way of figuring themselves out - you just need to be open to the answers coming and don't ignore them or push them away. Third, your gut will never be wrong. Seriously. It won't. Fourth, you're worthy. You're worthy of the answers. You deserve the answers. Don't think that you are asking for too much if you really want them. What you do with them is up to you - just remember your worth when you're figuring that part out.
Finally, if you need answers, don't be afraid to ask questions - to anyone, to yourself, about anything. That's how you learn. That's how you grow. Take it from someone who has lived her life taking everything at face value, hasn't wanted to rock the boat (intentionally) and has always played by the rules. Be curious, and base your life decisions on what you learn from that curiosity, what you feel in your heart and what you know is best for your soul.
Be curious - and don't wait as long as I did.