Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wisdom of 33

Usually when you celebrate a birthday, you don't feel any different than you did the day before.  Although that's the case with me most of the time, this year was an exception.  I'm not sure why but I truly feel older since turning 33 two weeks ago.  It's so easy to look at the negatives of aging but I've chosen to put a positive spin on it instead.  Certain situations from my past have popped into my mind recently and I've been able to examine them with a new perspective, often identifying exactly what I would do differently if I found myself in that boat today.  I believe this type of self-reflection is healthy, assuming one doesn't become obsessive about trying to change that which has already happened. Gotta live in the present, you know?

Had I known then what I know now, I would have...

-never left my job at St. John of God.  I quit because I wanted to make more money and the way to do that was to teach in a public school.  What I didn't realize at the time was that with the higher public school paycheck comes added politics, crazier students, unnecessary red tape, limits on creativity, and more of a "factory" mindset when it comes to the teaching process.  Get 'em in and ship 'em out.  At St. John of God, I had the sweetest students, top-notch, compassionate co-workers, the freedom to teach using non-traditional methods that worked better than any state standards ever did.  

-been more empathetic when dealing with parents.  At the time I was not a parent and had no idea what kinds of struggles parents go through when it comes to raising kids.  I wouldn't have been as annoyed when parents kept me waiting because I would've realized that they probably had 2 other kids to drop off/secure babysitters for before coming to my meeting.  If they forgot to return my call or email, I wouldn't have been frustrated because I would've understood that getting back to me was not a priority.  After all, I was not hurt, lost, scared, starving, or bleeding from the eye.  I could wait until after they dealt with more pressing issues.

-been more confident in my teaching ability.  I spent so many weekends (ALL weekend) creating lesson plans. I missed out on many birthday parties, family gatherings, etc. because I had to do lessons. And what do I remember looking back now?  Not the lessons!  But the memories made with family would've lasted forever.  The truth is, I could have delivered quality lessons without spending so much time on every little detail.

-chosen to buy a less expensive house as a first-time home buyer.  And I would've tried to find a house that we could afford on Rob's salary alone, knowing that I would be staying home with the kids for a few years and not bringing in any money.

-understood that some friends are not meant to be in my life forever and let them go.  "If you love somebody, set them free...."      You can't force a friend to stick around if he/she wants to leave.  Circumstances, feelings, and needs change.  It hurts but it's part of life.

-never assumed I'd live near family forever.  I swore up and down that Jenna would be the one to live far away.  She loves to travel and it seemed only natural that she'd end up across the country or further.  And yet, here I am, 1,000 miles away....

-felt the need to explain/defend each and every parenting decision I made with my oldest.  I should have had enough confidence in myself as a mother to simply tell them, "This is the way I do things" and have that be enough.

-taken church and CCD a lot more seriously as a teenager.  I was not at CCD to scope out cute boys and church was not about checking out who was wearing what when they went up for communion.  So much knowledge about my faith was available to me but I was not mature enough to handle it.  Or maybe I was but needed to change my attitude towards it.

-started running sooner!  It's a lot better than I ever imagined.  Who would've thought??!

-visited a few more countries while studying abroad in France.  We managed to hit Spain, Italy, and Switzerland but I could have made it further had I traveled with different groups.

It's important to note that these are not regrets but instead, reflections on my thinking now vs. then.  Life is short and every experience gives us valuable tools with which to face the next step in the journey.  I truly believe I live more in the present now than I ever did before.  It's not about racing to the finish line.  I am in no hurry for my kids (or myself, ha ha) to grow up.  I want to savor every moment so that when I look back on the course of my life, I can honestly feel like a participant and not an onlooker.  So yeah, 33 is not *old* but I feel a sense of wisdom that I never felt before.  And I'm excited to see where that wisdom will take me.

It may sound strange but in some ways, I feel like my life is only just beginning....


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