Once we reach adulthood, it’s assumed that we pretty much know who we are, and the general direction we’re headed, based on what we want for ourselves. Aren’t we all, on a daily basis, acting-out our desires for our lives? This is where it gets a little tricky; where I make a point about ‘life down the road’…my way of defining Growing Up, and Growing Older.
Just because we think we know who we are at a certain stage, doesn’t mean that we stop evolving as people. Ongoing change is not only inevitable, but necessary, to get the absolute ‘max’ out of life. On the other hand, some people seem to grow ‘old’ without ever getting a good grasp on self-fulfillment.
I used to think, when I was in my twenties, that this time of life was the most fraught with Who Am I ?, and, What Do I Want? quandaries. Turns out, if we’re living life bravely – without fear of what others think and how we might be judged – Life constantly nudges our hearts and minds with questions like, Why am I doing this (fill in the blank) ? I totally hate this situation!
Sometimes we just feel miserable, but lack the energy or motivation to suss-out the reasons for our ambivalent-sad-disappointed-frustrated-confused-resentful emotions. Maybe we’ve struck a bargain with someone or something: a job, a relationship, or a commitment of some other kind. We’ve told ourselves Considering what others want, and compromise, is good – being selfish is bad.
A single, but super-important question needs to be asked, as we consistently check-in with ourselves – in our twenties, thirties, forties and even beyond: Am I content with how things are? I’m not talking about the trivial stuff we fuss about – you ordered-in pizza, but I really wanted Chinese. I’m talking about major life decisions: in committed relationship, or not; buying a house, or not; having kids, or choosing a lifestyle of non-stop spontaneity. Full-disclosure: I got to this ‘party’ a little late. Even though I had a really strong sense of ‘self’, even in my twenties, it wasn’t really until my forties that I acted on some of my most life-sustaining desires.
Statistics are encouraging. More younger men and women are taking whatever time they need to explore all aspects of who they are, and what they want in life, and from life. Still, it surprises me that so many succumb to what I call “accidental choices”: life-altering commitments made without asking, Is this what I really want?
And speaking of desires and charging ahead to fulfill them, just a few days ago, the top travel company (in terms of guided, and independent travel bookings) cited some amazing data. It seems that female travelers 50+ years old represented a 53% increase in solo travel in 2018.
Not only single women and widowed women, but married women whose husbands don’t enjoy travel. Women are choosing to create and live-out travel dreams all on their own. Savvy companies are alerting to this trend and (thankfully) re-considering the higher prices of solo travel for all.
From my perspective, it’s a good thing when people — whatever their age and circumstance –think for themselves and try to live out their desires and goals. I don’t consider it selfish, or short-sighted in the least. Compromises can of course be made along the way, but ‘compromise’ shouldn’t feel like a relentless push-pull – in our families, our social circles, in the workplace, or in our personal lives.
Marie Kondo, the ‘tidying up’ lifestyle guru, tells us that our surroundings should ‘Spark Joy’. Her brand of uber-organizing might seem silly and superficial to some. But Kondo’s method is ruthless in helping us zero-in on what makes us happy, by tuning in to who we are and what feels right. If the process needs to begin with a closet, so be it. Take all the time you need.