I fly a lot.
As in 56 trips last year alone. Too bad they all weren’t on the same airline. That would make me an airline rock star.
In April, I took one of many trips to Dallas for work. I planned to use my air time catching up on work or sleep. The folks behind me had a different idea—they wanted to chat—the WHOLE flight.
To my left was The University of Texas System President Greg Fenves who was reading a folder filled with documents. I wanted to thank him for his work but instead texted my husband, a UT grad to say Fenves was in my row. I figured that, like me, this was likely his only chance to fuel up on silence because the rest of the day would be overscheduled.
I took that as a sign from the universe that I, too, should be reading. I did for a short time and then fell asleep. There’s just a point on flights where the white noise takes over! But the conversation one row behind me wouldn’t let me rest. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I’m sure the universe pulled me in.
A woman was sharing her frustrations with work, talking about a rough patch with a partner and then, finally, she dropped a truth bomb. Truth bombs are the real issue, the very thing you really don’t want to talk about, that you hope no one reads between the lines and discovers, the thing that keeps you up at night.
This young lady said, “I just don’t feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be for my age.” Wow. If I could have a donation made to my favorite nonprofit for every time I hear that line, we’d solve a lot of problems in the world.
I’d also be lying if I said the thought had never crossed my own mind before. There’s no secret formula for where one is supposed to be at a certain age. Well, unless you feel strongly that ever 21-year- old deserves a trip to Vegas or to a daiquiri shop for their birthday. Yes, I said daiquiri shop. I am from Louisiana!
Seriously, there is no magical researched formula for life. Not one we can manufacture or pay for yet we wake up each morning trying to fit ourselves into a box, grade ourselves or think about how we measure up against others. We pay a lot of money to a lot of people to give us tools and tricks to win the game. We lie to ourselves in hopes that the lies soften the reality of what the real problem is that we need to solve. Why? To what end?
I’ve worked for my employer for 15 years now, so I am routinely asked what’s next. In fact, I have one friend I absolutely love but sometimes avoid meeting for happy hour because it always feels like a probing session about my life. And no, I am not about to ask her if she’s happy in her job. Hey ya’ll—-let’s stop! Let’s stop worrying about where we think we’re supposed to be and instead stay focused on the present to live as authentically as we can. Let’s not control every moment just to check a box.
How, you ask? First let’s stop judging ourselves and stop judging others. Second, let’s question life with curiosity and explore things with open eyes. Third, let’s live each day with an open heart. Fourth, let’s have fun while setting our intentions.
As I was writing this, I realized the date was April 24, exactly one month before I turn 41. Boy did those 365 days go by FAST! I’m officially a 40-something. So weird, yet such an accomplishment. My commitment to myself the next 365 days is to focus on what brings me joy versus what I do well; being present where I want to be versus where I’m expected to be and spending time with whom I want to instead of who has asked for my time. Can I get an amen?
Let’s see how this goes. After all, I’m learning while living this thing called life without a magic formula.
PS. Here’s the letter I wrote to myself when I turned 40. I’m proud of my personal growth in just a year!
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