In four days, I celebrate my 41st birthday. I’ve been 40 for almost a full year and the year leading up to my 40th birthday and this past year have been full of introspection. I’ve been asking myself the same questions that I asked at 25, 30 and 35 years old:
Am I where I thought I would be in my life?
Is where I am now the pinnacle or is there more for me?
Have I figured out my purpose?
This week, I reflected on the time leading up to my 25th birthday. I remember my early 20s being a fun time but also a really difficult time. I had graduated college, found a good job working in my chosen career, I was hanging out with my friends every weekend, I had even moved out of my parents’ house and was establishing my independence. On the flipside, I was also broke all the time, living beyond my means, going places I didn’t really want to go just so I didn’t feel left out and doing things I shouldn’t have been doing trying to find my “soul mate.”
When I turned 25, I was dissatisfied with my life. Although I never sought professional help, I believe I suffered from depression. I would cry when I got the alert that my bank account was overdrawn. I would cry when I didn’t have a new outfit to wear out with my friends. I would cry when my bills would come in the mail and I knew I didn’t have the money to pay them all. When I wasn’t working or crying, I was sleeping and eventually I started feeding my sadness with food. I was in this cycle of fun and fear-fear that things would never be different, that I would always be broke and faking that I had everything together, that I would never find my soul mate.
This week, I asked myself the question: What is most different about me now than when I was experiencing that quarter life crisis at 25 years old? I’ve still got a good job, I’ve got my own home, I’ve got the same great friends but the lows of my 25th year are gone. The difference for me between 2002 and 2018 is TRUTH.
One definition of truth is conformity with fact or reality. A realization that I have been able to make recently is that at 25 years old, I was not interested in the truth and this contributed to a lot of the hopelessness and sadness that I experienced at that age. My mindset and my actions were not conforming with my reality. I was living out of order, almost in a state of insanity-doing the same things every week but expecting different results.
I was not interested in the truth of my financial situation. I had no plans to in live within the confines of my paycheck. I was shopping and hanging out every weekend, having fun was more of a priority than paying bills on time. I was not interested in the truth of who I was and what I wanted. It was more important for me to be a part of the group. So, I would be in the clubs and the bars, out late at night, going out to eat and shopping when I knew I couldn’t afford it. Aside from the financial impact, I also didn’t always enjoy going to clubs. I didn’t always want to be dressed up in tight clothes, uncomfortable shoes, out seeking the attention of men who only wanted a hook-up not a long-term relationship. At 16 years old, I thought I would be a working woman, married with children by the time I was 25 years old. When I turned 25 and my life didn’t look like that, it made me sad and I felt like a failure, like I didn’t fully achieve a goal. I knew there was more for me to achieve in life but I wasn’t sure how to get there-and that was scary.
The year of 40 for me has been all about living in my truth. I understand more now than I did in 2002 that my time is finite and precious. Everything I choose to do (or not to do) is based on this fact. I no longer spend time with people or in places that I don’t want to be. I no longer compromise my truth to be part of the group or to be “in the know.” I will admit, it wasn’t easy to get here. I didn’t want to hurt my friends and I didn’t want to lose them. I had to be honest about how I was feeling, the change I wanted to make and get comfortable saying no. Thankfully, my friends are great and they respect and encourage me living in my truth.
I wish I could say that I no longer live beyond my means—I’m still growing in this area. I can say that I my truth as it relates to finances is that I need to be smart with my money and financially stable because I don’t have many working years left. I want to be able to retire on time and live comfortably. A few months before my 40th birthday, I started working with a financial coach and she has helped me repair my credit, pay off credit cards and I have more money in my savings account than I’ve ever had. Because I acknowledged the truth of my financial status, the means in which I can live has expanded.
I have found my TRUE love and he didn’t come in the package that I expected! I thought I knew at age 25 what love was but I have discovered that what I thought was love didn’t conform with how I wanted to live my life. What I thought was love didn’t conform with how I expected to be treated. Love at age 40 is about peace which I have come to realize is just as important to me as truth.
Any age that you are still living on this earth is a good age to be. Whether you are under 25 or over 40, who you are and what you want matters. In order to figure this out, you have to be HONEST with yourself or find a trusted friend, therapist or life coach to help you get to the root of the things that are important to you. It may be a difficult process to go through but it is worth it. Finding YOUR truth will bring you peace no matter how old you are when you find it.
This article was written by Kelli Clay. You can follow her on Instagram @jolligirl3