Everyone has a scary age. It’s the age that your mind decides that you should have everything “together” so to speak. Something of a deadline for success. Well, for me, that age was 32. I had decided a long time ago that by this particular age I would have achieved all of the things I needed to have in my life, and if I didn’t already have them, I would be well on my way to getting them. I imagined myself happily married, working a successful career, mortgage payment and a kid on the way. It was kind of like a “life accomplishments” game I had always played with myself.
How did that work out?
Well, this past September I turned 32 and I’m sure it comes as no surprise but I was nowhere near the place I thought I would be. The thing is, all that stuff was way harder than it looks. Maybe not for everyone, but at least for me. Not to mention, I found myself at the age where I thought I would have reached all my “goals” and realizing that to my surprise a lot of my goals had changed. I all of a sudden wanted much different things than I originally thought I did. Of course I am still hopeful for some things, but now I see that those are things you just can’t rush. So even though I’ve hit my “scary age,” it’s actually not as scary as I thought it would be. So here I am accepting that maybe the timing of my life is just a little different than others. Maybe I’m not married or with child, but I did learn and accomplish quite a bit this year already. So why would I regret any of this? Sure, I guess I could beat myself up about all the stuff I didn’t do and haven’t accomplished, OR I could take some time and celebrate the things I did do.
Home Sweet Home- My First Real Estate Purchase
Buying my first home wasn’t exactly a fun project. I’ve got to say that buying a house when you’re single is pretty tricky. It is stressful and confusing. Throughout the process I went to several classes and most of the time I’d look around the room and see nothing but couples. I felt a bit lonely. Plus, getting a loan with one modest income is hard—it’s way easier to qualify with two incomes. It’s also harder to save up for a down payment, harder to make time to look at properties, and it’s really exhausting to think about moving and fixing up the new place alone.
Despite that, after several months of nerve-wracking searching, letdowns and negotiating, I finally found a home that is perfect for me. It’s nothing fancy but it has a big backyard, an ideal work commute, low taxes and it’s completely within my financial budget plan. As a single person it’s perfect. Cozy enough for one but still big enough for two. I was also able to stay in the city I’ve spent the last 4 years in that I makes me feel at home. Although my house will never be featured in homes and gardens magazine, it does make me happy and keep me very busy. It also keeps me safe at night, warm, and dry. I could go on and on about what an annoying nuances process that buying my first home was but the truth is, even after all the expenses, frustrations and stress, it has been totally worth it. I now can confidently say that I am “house rich” because coming home everyday is truly a joy. For years I longed for my own space and a home I could call my own. Now at 32 it’s something I finally have. If that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is.
Mental Health Awareness
The subject of mental health is a sensitive one. Mostly because it seems to mean something different to everyone and each person has their own ways of dealing and coping with these issues. There is a saying “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” This is so very true, because no one has it all together. In fact, the older I get, I am finding that it’s quite the opposite. Even the most blessed individuals struggle with some sort of demons. For me, that demon is anxiety. For something like the past 10 years I have struggled with it. Explaining anxiety to someone who doesn’t have it can often be difficult. To some it’s as simple as telling me to just “calm down” or others want me to “train my brain not to worry so much.” The thing is, it’s really not that simple. Most of the time, I don’t even know what it is I’m worried about. It’s more just a feeling. It’s like that feeling when you trip, and you have that moment where you’re not sure if you’re going to catch yourself or face-plant. You know that feeling, right? Where your stomach jumps to your throat and your heart skips three beats. Well it’s that feeling, but just all day. Or another example would be when you’re all snuggled in your bed and about two seconds away from falling into a deep sleep and all of a sudden you feel that urge of dropping that jerks you awake. That’s what anxiety feels like for me, an unexplained feeling of panic that can take control without warning.
It took me till the age of 32 but I finally started therapy last year. Now I can finally start to identify when my anxiety is creeping up on me, and how I can combat it. I’ve started seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist. I am able to talk with both of them about feelings and issues that I am going through in my life. I’ve also (reluctantly) allowed my doctors to prescribe some medications that they feel will help me cope with my mental health on a day to day basis. Learning to deal with my anxiety has been difficult, and scary, even downright terrifying. But with the right coping mechanisms, I have started to find ways to tame it. I will say, despite everything I have had going on this past year, that for the first time in a long time, I feel in charge of my emotions again. In the past it always seemed to be the other way around, they controlled me and I was always at their mercy. So even if it’s not an issue that is 100% fixed, I think finally taking time to recognize and listen to what my body is trying to tell me is a HUGE step for me.
Removing Toxic Relationships
I won’t spend too much time on this one, because I have actually already written a few posts regarding this exact subject. Just the same, I thought it was important to include on this list because for the first time in pretty much my whole life, I am learning how to walk away from people. The thing is, not all toxic people are cruel and uncaring. Sometimes people are only toxic for you because of your own feelings. You know that expression “To love someone so much it hurts?” Well, that pretty much sums it up. It’s as simple as how do they make you feel? If the relationship is hurting you more than it’s helping you, you have to let it go. You can love someone, forgive them, and want good things for them, but still move on without them. Our lives our so short and throughout them we have many very important people we are awarded the pleasure of sharing our time with. People who love us, care for us and want to help make us happy. So now at 32, those are the people I’m spending my time on. The ones who love me back.
Body Image Issues
Throughout my whole life, I’ve always been what some would call “skinny” which makes this topic that much more difficult for me to address. For years I have caught flack for attempting to discuss my body issues with others. The usual response being something like “You’re too thin to worry about that.” or “If you think you’re fat, what do you think of me?”
Speaking in society’s terms, I am average; possibly even toward the smaller end of the spectrum but the thing is, negative body image knows no body type. The only requirement is having a body. Negative body image affects everyone, it doesn’t care if you’re male, female, black, white, short, tall, thick or thin. It doesn’t matter how you see a person, it matters how they see themselves. We as a society are conditioned to hate our bodies. As I said before I lean towards the smaller side of the human race. I am 5’4 and throughout the last decade of my life I’ve been anywhere from 115-140. I have gained and lost and gained and lost and never seemed to love my body at any size. The strangest part is, it was always at my thinnest when I started to obsess over my body’s imperfections. Worrying that my thighs were too large or my boobs too small, I complained about the shortness of my legs and the width of my waste, nothing was ever off limits.
Sadly, it never even stopped at weight, my nose is too wide and my eyes are just a little too close together. Recently I’ve started noticing wrinkles, which has allowed my age to open a whole new category of hate. When does it end? Our generation has set unrealistic expectations of what a body should look like. It’s been going on so long, it’s just becoming normalized. As a women if you don’t have dyed hair, large breasts, fake eyelashes and waxed everything you’re now “unattractive?” I guess it wasn’t until this year I realized that there is no finish line to this race. Because as fast as I’m trying to learn to accept myself and my body, our society will invent new things for me to hate. So today, for the first time, I really don’t think about my body much. I’ve stopped wasting energy waging a constant battle with my own shape and features. I guess I’m in a place where I don’t hate my body anymore but I don’t love it either. Now I guess I just don’t care. I don’t want to learn to love my body anymore. What I want, more than anything, is to stop caring about my body at all. I’ve already wasted way too much time on it.
Spend more time with who matters
I’m what most would call an introvert. I enjoy being alone a good percentage of the time, it helps me feel at ease. But I’m recently seeing while alone time is important for creativity and inspiration, spending quality time with friends and family is just as important. Spending time with these individuals makes a big difference when it comes to happiness. Social time is especially important for happiness –even for someone like me. As we get older, and life gets faster – the time we once had for our friends and family seems to diminish. These interactions are not only helpful for growth and self love, but they also help us become better people. Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen — out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. For many years I struggled with this. I’m not sure if it was my social anxiety that caused me to pull further and further from my friends and family or maybe somewhere along the way I accidentally let some of the wrong people in. Whatever the case, I spent the last 4-5 years dreading get-togethers, family gatherings and work functions. It wasn’t until this year after learning some hard lessons about loss, that I realized how wrong my stance on this was. The people you hold near and dear to you should always be at the top of your list. You should want to spend more time with people who make you feel loved, people who remind you of your worth and people who truly appreciate your presence in their lives. Your family and friends are those people. This year I think of all my lessons and accomplishments this has been the biggest. Remembering to embrace the people I love is something I now practice everyday. It has not only helped me to reduce my stress and anxiety but also brought more love back to me just by putting more out into the world and I’m much happier because of it.
So although it might still seem overwhelming when I get the mail that says “Kate, are you prepared for your retirement?” Because I couldn’t be further from it. But I guess I really can’t beat myself up about things too much. I’ve come pretty far this past year, and I could be in much worse places. I truly am the happiest I’ve been so far in my life to date and only seem to be moving forward. Maybe I did see things for me differently but if I had those things now would I even be happy? Maybe those things weren’t meant for me or maybe my timing was just off. Either way, I’m content with where I am. Right here, right now. Besides, sometimes there is a little something exciting in the uncertainty of not knowing exactly where you’re going.