Today I turn 39. My last year in my 30’s. If I had my nearly 4 decades to do over, I’d stay home with my kids, which is a total contradiction because I hated staying at home when they were very young. Now I’d do it all over again and for longer, just for more time with them. I’d go to graduate school the first time I had the chance. I’d go back to that first relationship in high school, and I’d say no to that boy. Yes, it would change the course of my life, but I’d avoid the pain of losing a friend. I’d make and keep better connections with friends of my parents and my extended family. I had no idea how much I would wish I knew them better as I got older. I’d demand more of myself. The status quo and self pity would never be in my coping toolbox. I’d learn about self care early on and make it a priority. I’d stop myself from picking up terrible interpersonal habits that negatively affect my relationships. My poor husband really has to deal with a lot of baggage. I’d let people get close to me, I’d be more vulnerable. And I’d expect it of other people too. I’d take back every mean word I ever said to my sister. Maybe we were just kids, but I’m sure it affected her, and she’s the only sibling I have. I’d set better boundaries for myself, and I wouldn’t be afraid to say no. I wouldn’t find a sick comfort in relationships that make me feel bad. I’d talk to my mom about her illness, I’d share my fears about living a life without her. I’d snuggle up next to her that night when she asked me to. I’d understand that in order to feel great joy and compassion, you also, at times, have to allow yourself to feel great pain. I’d never stop writing. Or dancing. Or letting the world know how smart I am. Or crying. I’d cry a LOT more. And I’d pray more. I’d figure out early what makes me passionate and pursue that. Or not stop pursuing that. I’d have a job that I love, that fulfills me, that I can’t wait to get up and do every morning. I’d force my foot into that Cinderella slipper and never let it fall off my foot.
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”
~Henry David Thoreau
Happy 39. It’s going to be a great year.