Eight years ago, when I turned 37, something changed inside me. It felt like it happened overnight but if I look back with a bird’s eye view, things had been stirring inside me for years before I really gave myself permission to notice them. Can you relate to this? If so, hang tight for a sneak peek into the start of my midlife reinvention.
Before this, there had been the little nudges, coincidences, or things that seemed to make me stop and question myself. But I didn’t – stop to notice and question things, I mean. Instead I just shoved the nudges down and plowed ahead.
I know you’re probably asking yourself what the nudges were. And I wish I could tell you clearly. But I’ll give it my best shot and let you in on the behind-the-scenes of the messiness of my personal experience in this beginning phase of my midlife reinvention.
It was the feeling that if I had to sit through another day of professional development (that wasn’t going to actually help me develop as a professional) that an alien was going to physically come out of my body.
It was the death of a dear friend that sent my internal clock into overdrive making me feel like time was running out and I was going to miss my calling if I didn’t do things right. this. minute!
It was the indescribable feeling that something was just five degrees off and knowing deep in my soul that the direction I was headed in wasn’t right for me.
It was sitting in my doctor’s office thinking I was dying only to find out that I had shingles and was exhausted. And it was learning that the only remedy was to learn to say no and begin to take things off my plate.
It was looking into my doctor’s eyes and sobbing. It was telling him there wasn’t anything I could possibly take off my plate because everyone needed me. Everything was important. And there wasn’t anything I could possibly drop the ball on.
It was explaining to my boss that I was way too young to have shingles. And seeing him compassionately smile and explain that I wasn’t alone because two of my colleagues had shingles too.
It was the certainty I felt that this couldn’t be all there was to my one precious life.
It was the indescribable feeling that I was made for SO MUCH MORE!
So I guess when I said nudges, I wasn’t being completely honest. These were more like technical knockouts. But I kept getting up and fighting. I kept getting up and acting as if these knockouts were normal. And in a sense they were. Most women I knew were experiencing exhaustion. Most women I knew were running themselves ragged doing all the things and being everything to everyone. Most women I knew were saying yes when deep down inside they wanted to say no. So I didn’t have examples of anything different. And I wasn’t being an example of anything different.
Which is why I felt unsettled, uncertain, and confused about what to do. I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like I just needed to keep plowing ahead.
Resource (blog post): Why Changing Can Feel So Hard
So I tried to cope with the discomfort by shoving it down and ignoring it. I started moving into overdrive and doing all the things, thinking that would help me figure out an answer faster.
I changed positions in my career, started my master’s in counseling coursework, volunteered to serve on the board of a local woman’s group, and started volunteering to help a woman in my community speak English.
But the feelings of wanting more and the confusion just wouldn’t go away. They stayed with me as I continued to burn myself out without realizing what I was doing.
I took a long and winding path to realize that what I was experiencing was the beginning of my midlife reinvention. And 8 years later I now know that doing more wasn’t the way to find the answers I was looking for. To understand what I wanted I needed to start with pausing and going inside. I needed to start with pausing and asking myself some tough questions that nobody else could answer for me. Which means I needed to start with me giving myself permission to do less, listen to myself more, and pay attention to the quiet voice inside me, as well as those nudges and knockouts.
There’s so much power in pausing, getting quiet with ourselves, and asking ourselves what we need and want in this season of our lives. Are you giving yourself permission to do that? I hope you don’t take the same long and winding path I took to find the answers you’re seeking through your own midlife reinvention.
Resource (blog post): How to Reinvent Yourself After 40
If you’re in a place where you’re craving something more but you’re not sure what that is, I’m sharing some questions to help you get started on your journey to clarity. Head below to grab them!
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