Three-hundred and sixty five days from now, I will hit the Big 4-0. Yes, it’s my birthday today and I’m not ashamed to admit that I am 39 years old.
I’m okay with it. I really am. And I’m okay with turning 40 next year, too. I hope that I have the same excitement next year that I did when I turned 30. Back when that happened, I purposely went out and bought a coffee mug that shouted “30 Rocks!” I embraced turning 30 in a big way.
I’m comfortable with all of this because I’d rather be the age I am now than be 18 again. Youth is horribly overrated. The only way I would even consider being 18 again is if I could keep all of the knowledge I have gained over the years.
One thing I have come to realize about age and getting older is that you can’t stop the inevitable. No Botox, no plastic surgery, no hair plugs, no Viagra, no dressing like a 20 year old is going to stop the calendar. The only thing about this that I can control is what I do with the time I am given.
When I turned 35, I ended up doing a lot of soul searching. I had one of those “I’m 35 and what have I done with my life” moments. I came to the realization that when I turned 40, I did not want to have another “what have I done with my life” moment and that I have the power to do something with my life. Which is what led me to go back to school to get an associate degree.
School is for my job, so I can get a degree and move up. I have the skills and I have the intelligence, but I lack the degree to move up in the company. But school is also for myself because I’ve always talked about going back. Talk is just words. Talking about doing something isn’t going to get it done. Action is what gets it done. Taking the bull by the horns and doing something to change your situation is the only way to make the most of the time you are given on this Earth. For years, I would talk about going back, but I couldn’t afford it. But when I realized that I could save up the amount of money to pay for one class and that one classes material from a few paychecks (after bills are paid), it made my “I can’t afford it” excuse null and void. I decided that yes, I was going to do it, even if it meant I took one class at a time and it took me longer than five years to do it.
I’m not scared of the school work required of me to do this. But there is that leap into the unknown that is scary.
Someday, when this is done, or perhaps right after this is done, I would like to do something else “for me”. I would like to transfer my credits over to get a Bachelor’s degree in business. It’s not so much for work as it is more personal.
I could have gone to college right out of high school, but didn’t. In many ways, I’m glad I didn’t go then because at that point in my life, I could not have appreciated it. Knowing the person I was then, I probably would not have finished school. Back then, I didn’t think I deserved to go to college, or that I was worthy of going to college, even though I was certainly smart enough to get in and I could have worked my tail off to pay for it myself if that’s what it took to get through.
It took me years to work out all the issues I had when I was younger, particularly regarding my self-esteem. I wasted a lot of my life and squandered opportunities because I didn’t think I was worthy of it. I don’t believe that now I deserve to go to college. Deserve implies some sort of entitlement, and I am not entitled to a Bachelor’s Degree. However, I want to go to college. I want to get my bachelor’s degree. I will do what I have to in order to get through school and realize my goals.
Part of “growing up” is realizing that you and only you can determine the path your life takes. Outside forces may try to derail your plans, but in the end, you are the one in control of things. You may be born into a set of circumstances, but they are by no means permanent. You can work your way out of those circumstances. It may not be easy and it may not be the obvious path, but you can work your way out of them. When you want things in life, you have to earn them. You have to start out with nothing and work for what you have. A lot of young people now seriously need to learn this lesson. They need to suck it up, buckle down, and get to work. Nothing good is gained when it is merely handed to you.
I did not have the greatest of childhoods. I grew up with emotionally distant parents who neglected to give me the basic necessities in life (like regular doctor and dentist check-ups, not the latest fashions or a Walkman), while somehow always finding the money to do things that they wanted to do. They did not show me affection, nor did they give me moral support, which is free and shouldn’t cost a thing. It should be no surprise that I ended up with issues.
However, I have what I have in spite of them. I had to be willing to face up to things that were not pretty or nice about myself and I had to be willing to change in order to do this. I had to be willing to take responsibility for my own life to get where I am now. Had I not done this…I’m not even sure I want to think about what kind of person I would be.