OK, it’s been a few years since the aforementioned crisis took place but this photo was pretty much me on the day I turned 40. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t even be talking about it but I have to write a post on a crisis, so…I will cast my mind back to that tissue-filled day and recount the events leading up to it and how it has changed me, for the better.
It hardly seems like a big deal now but at the time, I was actually quite devastated about turning the big 4-0! I was living in London and working at a luxury department store which probably seemed to anyone not living in one of the world’s most expensive cities, that I was leading this glamorous life working in the fashion industry.
However, this was not the reality or certainly not how I felt. In the month, weeks, and days leading up to that birthday, the dread of getting another year older took a slow grip on my body. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of great things going on in my life but I began to think about all the things I didn’t have, that I should have, or at least the things I thought I would have had in my life by now: I wasn’t married, I didn’t have kids, I didn’t own a flat, my savings were rubbish, and I wasn’t in my dream job. Rationally, I knew that I was still building my career as a freelance fashion stylist, and that is no small feat in London, but emotionally, I was comparing myself to what society said I should be and should have at that stage in my life. So naturally, when the day came for me to turn 40, my list of so-called failings came crashing down in the form of 40,000 tears (cue the dramatic music!).
Even I wasn’t prepared for the degree of the outpouring of emotions that filled the next 24 hours. I think I cried about five times that day and my poor friend Kirsty, bless her heart, did her best to console me, despite the fact that she was only about 26 years-old and overwhelmed by the “old” sobbing woman in the office. That night I went out with friends to drink and dance away my sorrows and it helped lift me out of my despair. Well, at least the crying stopped!
In the dawn of the new day and of every day since then I have accepted that I am in my 40’s, that I can’t do anything about it, that I actually look good for my age, that I am happy with the things that I have accomplished, and that I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life. Perhaps, only someone in their 40’s can say these things with a certain calmness, or perhaps, it’s just the old saying, “once you hit rock bottom, you can only go up.”
Whichever one it might be, I think I handled my crisis decently well. I apologized to my stakeholders (me) and started to rebuild trust and loyalty in myself. This openness and honesty made me realize the things that are actually important and once I started to design my life around this concept, the white space left, allowed me to just breathe and be at one with myself.
Here is a list of some of the things I remind myself to do every day:
- Regret nothing
- Feed the soul
- Learn something new
- Don’t compare yourself with others – just beat your own PB
- Forget expectations
- Live to work, not work to live
- Be giving of your time
I have also started following Arianna Huffington this past year, and her new company, Thrive Global because I went back to school and have some serious sleep deprivation.
I am trying to get more sleep and turn off my phone! Here are some of her helpful tips that you can apply to your life, even if you have not entered your 40’s.
If you can accomplish even just a few of these things, then you will be on your way to leading a happier life. I can’t guarantee that you won’t have a meltdown on your 40th Birthday, but my parting words of advice are: you don’t need money to have a rich life.