The dictionary defines ‘fierce‘ as:
–> having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness
–> showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity
–> powerful and destructive in extent or intensity
All of those resonate with me. I’m beginning to think that middle age (and this is apparently your mid-40s) is the new early 20s. Or at least that’s where I feel I’ve been picking up again with the things in my life that I want to do and experience that I’ve missed out in the past. Damn. There are few things I hate more than being cliche.
The idea of being fierce has been with me for a very long time. A crazy, brilliant and talented artist (and friend) once took a Sharpie to my arm and faux tattooed me at a conference. No worries, she did this to all the ladies that were willing.
She asked me for a word off the top of my head that summed “me” up. FIERCE came out of my mouth. (The rest was Robin’s doing AND IT IS FANTASTIC.) I’m not sure I had ever said the word out loud before. I felt – and wanted to BE – fierce. I desperately wanted to be intense and aggressive and powerful. Things that are assumed not to coexist with being female or feminine. Things others assume I already am. Things I needed for me to feel whole. Things I felt in my head but feared showing other people.
This is what she drew:
Years later I’m still not as fierce as I want to be. But I *need* to be and I’m actively working to get there.
So where does the new outlook come from? Restlessness. Comfort. Fear. Change. FOMO. Curiosity. Regret.
I don’t want to be on my deathbed and wish I had lived differently.
That is pretty much sums up a midlife crisis, right? The fact that a big birthday is coming up has a LOT to do with it. (Note: For me, big birthdays come every 11 years – 11, 22, 33, soon 44.)
There are thoughts that go through my head like a heartbeat every single day.
Travel more (you’ve been still too long…)
Learn more (you don’t yet have enough experience to be any good…)
Dare more (you don’t do the things that make you feel alive…)
BE more (you aren’t what you thought you’d be by 44…)
LIVE MORE (you are getting old and running out of time…)
What I’m coming to terms with is the fear of being rejected by others (which, honestly, has happened enough to me this year to crush me for a lifetime) has eaten me alive and holds me back from the things I really want. I’ve stopped letting myself stay in situations where I’m being underutilized, taken advantage of, overlooked, marginalized and unappreciated. (Yes, that includes professionally – ESPECIALLY professionally.) Speak up. Fight back. Walk away. Life – MY life – is too short to put up with other people’s bullshit expectations of me based on their own shortcomings. There. I’ve said it <grin>.
When it comes right down to it, the choices and dreams a person has really only reflect on the desires and experiences of the person, not those around them. While I thought others around me would judge my choices, in the end they are mine alone to make. Recently I did something I had wanted to do for literally DECADES but had not been brave enough to follow through with. Honestly I feared what my family would think. I valued other people’s passing opinion more than I chose to honor my own feelings. I finally value my own opinion.
I’ve come to realize that by not being the most authentic version of ME that I can, I’m doing a disservice to my family and the people I value. My kids (specifically my teen daughter) need to see what it means to live a life to the fullest, without regret and with compassion. If I don’t model that for her, I cannot expect her to mirror it in her own life. From now on I’m letting myself explore the interests that I’m drawn to. Things I’ve stuffed down and ignored because of life, work, family, obligations and fear of judgement. Oh, the guilt of judgement is suffocating.
When I was in high school in the 80s I was completely enamoured with the movie Grease … and not so much Madonna. My fashion choices mimicked the 50s and not the Material Girl like most my friends. I even sewed my own homecoming dress, prom dress and later a dress I wore to a college formal (along with my date’s TIE to match my dress – DAMN I wish I had pictures.) All were vintage inspired halter dresses complete with polka dots and a crinoline skirt. Let’s be honest, I still had big 80s Jersey hair. My choices weren’t popular at a time in life it was damaging to not fit in, so I attempted to blend in as much as my extroverted personality could figure out. It’s taken me over 25 years to allow myself to rediscover my love of vintage fashion and decor, and I fully intend on creating my own quirky version and not worry about how ‘authentic’ it is to others.
Standing out should be my super power.
My love for travel came to me later in life. When I was younger, I was very skittish and feared things I did not know – like pretty much anyplace outside of New Jersey. Now the desire to see parts of the world is a constant pull for me. Now I’m consciously working every day to allow myself the resources (or professional opportunity) to travel. My list includes the UK and Australia but I know I’ll add more after I’ve conquered those. I’ve even got my TSA PreCheck and passport JUST IN CASE…
I’m working on exhaling more and letting myself BE the me that lives in my head. The rest of you can come along for the ride so long as you are willing to BE what you are meant to as well.