In a few weeks I will be starting my 51st year on this planet. There are times when this fact amazes me, such as the other night when I went to my oldest son’s back-to-school night at the same high school I attended.
As I walked the pale yellow brick hallways searching for his history class, I would have sworn that I was the student in her senior year rushing to her 8th period class, not the mother of a 17-year-old kid in his last year of high school.
Then there are times when I feel every single one of my soon-to-be 51 years. Like this morning when I lay in my bed unable to get myself up. I wanted to wake up and make my weekly breakfast date with my mom. But my joints ached, and my head was pounding with pain. I guess it wasn’t the best idea to stay up and watch Saturday Night Live and then surf the net until 3:00 a.m.
Much has happened between the years that I was an insecure 17-year-old girl, who was afraid to tell people what I really thought or felt, to become the fairly confident woman I am today. The one who has been married for 23 years, has three kids, and spends a lot of my time crafting my thoughts and feelings into essays for anyone who wants to read them. The following are five things I have come to believe as a woman today:
- What my body looks likes isn’t anyone’s business but my own. My weight has been something that occupied a huge amount of my time in my late teens and twenties. Even when I got healthier and stopped abusing my body with starvation diets and bulimia, I could still be made to feel worthless if a boyfriend made a comment that I put on a pound or two. Today I am extremely far from my ideal weight, yet I feel stronger and more confident than I ever did before. It helps to have a husband who thinks I’m beautiful exactly as I am. But I know that my worth is so much more than what can be measured on a scale.
- My voice counts, what I say has merit. People may not agree with me, and that is fine. But I have a right to my own opinion and feelings. And I have a right to express them when and where I want to.
- People are not always going to like me or the things I believe in. That’s OK. That is their right. I no longer feel the need to be liked by everyone I know and meet. I won’t lie, it’s nice. But it’s not necessary for me to have a happy life. And the fear of not being liked no longer stops me from doing the things I love and saying the things I believe in.
- That which has not killed me has made me stronger. I have lost people I have loved, have had four miscarriages, had dreams that didn’t come true, and times where I really wondered if I would be able to go on. But I did. And I am stronger for every hard time I have had. Yet even though I truly believe this for myself, I no longer say this phrase to anyone else. I have learned that the kindest thing I can do when others are going through a tough period is to listen to them without judgment.
- As long as I can laugh at myself, I will be OK.