So what do I know about myself at 42? I know that:
1) Pride Goes Before a Fall: There is a reason my knees and ankles snap, crackle and pop. I've fallen over everything you can possibly imagine, publicly, and generally either fell on my knees or rolled my ankles. I still remember running downhill on a slick street to catch a bus. I was wearing cute little flats with absolutely no traction on the bottom of the shoe. It came as a surprise to no one but my nylon covered knee that it hit the pavement just as the bus was pulling off. That's just one incident. To this day, I wonder how I pulled a ligament in my knee getting a pot out of a cabinet to cook dinner. I have always been loathe to admit that I either am not good at or don't know how to do something (my attempt at martial arts comes to mind), and by the time I screw up either the task or myself, the truth comes out and it's always pretty obvious I had no clue what I was trying to do.
And that's just the physical side. If I have any Achilles Heel at all, it is Pride. It keeps my mouth closed when I should ask for help, and convinces me to take chances I know I shouldn't because I refuse to admit that I just might be out of my depth. Granted sometimes a little Pride is a good thing (it convinced me to try and make a go of a blog!), but like most good things, a little goes a long way.
2) There But For The Grace of Chocolate, I Go: I am an emotional eater. I don't go for the salty fried comfort; I head straight for the warm embrace of the sweet and/or starchy. Many a diet has fallen to stress fueled snacking on chocolate and warm buttered pastries. The only good thing that came out of stress eating, was that I actually had to become a better cook in order to make the specific dishes that I wanted. That hasn't always worked out, but now I can use my newly acquired cooking skills for good. I will still dive into the occasional cookie, brownie or cake (or ANYTHING made by my older sister!), and I don't bore my family on the holidays by talking incessantly about what I can and can't eat, but I do know my triggers, and I'm learning moderation. I am even learning to avoid The Counter, the one place in the office where food goes to be eaten by whoever passes by. Note I said: Learning. I'm still not there yet.
3) I'm Okay With Being "OK": Sometime around the age of 40, most people decide that perfectionism isn't worth the time you take to pursue it. That's around the time that I got there anyway. Once I realized that I would never have perfect children (who does?), a perfect appearance (critics are EVERYWHERE), or the perfect life (a myth centuries in the making), I decided that I was going to learn the concept of enough. Anytime you give a 100% effort to something, you've done enough. The results may not be what you expected, but that's OK. How many of us have completely changed our diets and started exercising only to realize months later that we've only dropped a few pounds? This is OK, because you have started good new habits, now all you have to do make some adjustments.
And so it is, with all things.
I suppose being over 40 has given me a bit of a philosophical bent on life. Attempting to keep up with the Joneses has given way to a smile and a wave as they pull away from the curb. They have their life; I have mine. Imperfect, but wonderful for me. I will never again look or think the way I did at 21. Nor do I want to. Like a fine wine, I think we all mellow with age, and in doing so, gain vast depths of understanding and wisdom to impart to those younger than us that have yet to experience what we have.
Especially taking the time to know and understand yourself. It might come in handy some day.