Going back to school at 40

It’ s been interesting going back to school at the age of 40. Even though it is a graduate program, I assumed that I would just keep to myself because most of these kids would be straight out of college and want very little to do with someone that had a decade, if not two, on them.

Boy, was I wrong. Dead wrong.

Not only is there a handful of us that are in our thirties and forties, but the crop of gals and guys in their twenties are awesome. I mean it. They are down-right rad. (and yes, I just dated myself by using the word rad)

I love getting the random text at 10:00 pm; “Where are you? Meet me at Yard House,” or my personal favorite, “Medders. DogHaus. Now.” I’m too old for this. I want to go to bed, I want to shout, I have wrinkles now and they show up even more when I don’t sleep. But in truth, I love it. I absolutely love it.

I love how we have dress up days. Pajamas, Fancy clothes, Where’s Waldo. Halloween.  I love how we play football in the grass and have oodles of potlucks. We have celebrated three weddings and the arrival of four babies. We have cried together when Bob decided to join our little group and celebrated when he didn’t get any bigger.

There have been rich conversations filled with laughter- tears-and coffee.

So many tears and sooooo much coffee.

I love that I have a decade of ‘life’ on these guys. I do. I love the wisdom and understanding that comes with having a little bit of life under my belt.

One of the conversations that sticks out to me the most I kinda stumbled upon. We had just finished our first hour of lecture, discussing the ideas of real self versus false self, the idea that we often will present a self that isn’t us at all, but rather what we think people want and like, and operate out of that self instead.

Two of the younger girls continued the conversation out onto the foray as we took a ten minute break.

I was listening to them as I let the sun hit my face for a few brief moments. Ahhh warmth. I love being outdoors. Hoping to give my mind a rest for a few brief moments, I closed my eyes, but I couldn’t help but listen half-heartedly.

They began to share their fears; “What if what I am portraying I think is my real self, but it’s not.  I mean, how will I know? What if my real self is not well received by those around me?” “What if I am transparent with my friends and they reject me for that.” They began to fret over what others would think and that was where I had to jump in. I tried to keep my mouth shut. I really did… but it didn’t work.

You know the best part about growing old…

The girls turned to look at me. I could see the eagerness in their eyes, anticipating that with my forty years of experience with self, whatever self that may be,  I would be able to offer some wisdom and insight.

They nodded, for me to continue on.

I paused for effect, because I like to be dramatic.

I started slowly, entering in with almost a whisper…. I have learned that the best part of growing old is… that you don’t give a rat’s ass about what anyone thinks of you. My lips spread into a wide grin, my eyes dancing with delight as I sat back into my bench.

Bammm. Boom.

Their looks said it all.

By the dropped jaws and blank stares, I’m guessing that is NOT what they were expecting me to say.

But, there it was… in all it’s glory. Raw. Rattling. Truth.

 Sitting on the bench across from me was one of us ‘oldies’. A dad in his mid thirties, Paul started chuckling. Leaning forward, he leaned up his hand and offered me a high-five. “Yep, “ he laughed, “that about sums it up.”

Now, I know for some that verbage sounds a little crass- harsh- and it needed to be because, honestly, sometimes when things are wrapped up so nice and pretty the message doesn’t sink down as deep as it needs to go and  there was so much at stake here.  Freedom. Peace. Lightness. Oh, the lightness that comes when we reserve only a few sacred places for the opinions our closest of friends and we let the rest go.

We let… the… rest… go. Lightness.

And I share this with you, dear sisters, because if we can wrap around minds and our souls around this one thing it can be life changing!  I have experienced this. This has been my journey,  discovering that I fretted way more about what others may be thinking about me than what I thought of myself. When I stopped and thought about it, I didn’t even enjoy who I was, and the thought came to me;  I want to learn to love who I am because I’m the one who has to live with me day in and day out. In this body. In this mind. With these hands and this mouth. 

They don’t… but I do.

Oh dear sisters, how often do you take the time to reflect on what you think about yourself? Do you like who you are? Do you enjoy being with you, when no one is around and it is quiet? Do you enjoy your own company? I know that sound funny, but it’s true!

We have spent so little time engaging with ourselves, appreciating the way we were made. I wonder what would happen, dear sisters, if we were to view ourselves as a young girl, a young friend, that we took time to get to know… to befriend and to enjoy.

This is our year, dear sisters, to make peace with ourselves.

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