When I was in college I always wanted the best grade. If somebody got a 100% on a test then I wanted to have done the extra-credit essay to get 106%. I can’t say with any certainty why I was this way, it simply is how it was, and I found myself not only competing with my classmates but with my own self…”this time I will do two extra credit assignments” I might say to myself before a test or an opportunity to improve. More than several times over the years a professor would look at me oddly and ask me why I wanted an extra credit assignment as I already had the highest average in the class, and I never had an answer…for whatever reason I THRIVED on winning at college! So it’s a bit of a mystery to me, why in middle age, over this last decade or so, in a number of ways, I have “let myself go.” This is not a personal pity party but rather a recognition that I have some work to do on me. I want to focus on wellness and get to be the welliest version of myself thus far. Thriving on winning at being is my new goal…it’s sounds silly but it’s absolutely true.
There are parts of my life and my body and my current situation that need improvement. Some parts need considerably more attention than others and I think it’s important to be honest about it all…I recognize that there are things that could be better and I want to do the work to make them better. Period. I have wasted decades of my life feeling like something was “wrong” with me…all of my friends got the “dream” of a husband. I did not. Hours of journal writing, dozens of books of blank paper and miles of ink from pens, was wasted over more than 30 years with me wondering why I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to marry, and why all of my girlfriends “got” something that I was always told I should strive for but never managed to obtain. WASTED TIME WONDERING. When I graduated college there were almost 1,900 of us in that class, and only twelve of us had a 4.0 GPA. THIS was, for me, a major goal and HUGE accomplishment…I worked full time and raised a child while going to college at night and on my days off and graduated in the tippy-top of the class. A BIG DEAL in every way…but I kid you not, A huge part of my brain, even then on that very day of graduation, felt that it paled in big deal-ness to a proposal, a diamond, a wedding, and a new chapter of life as a Mr. and Mrs. What the heck??!! Talk about therapist worthy inner-dialogue???!!! WASTED TIME WONDERING. I don’t want to compare myself to any of these women, or anybody for that matter, anymore ever again. I am tired of feeling like other people “won” at life and I lost. I am tired of it all.
I want only to compare myself right now to the me of yesterday, or the me of last week. I want to improve me every day and not care about what other people are doing and why they are doing it, or what they have and I don’t. I have spent decades feeling “less than” because all of my friends got the “dream” of a husband and I did not. I spent decades feeling like I lacked important qualities that made me valuable enough to be a wife. I turned 55 earlier this month and at a yoga retreat the following weekend I decided, for the last time, F**K that. F**K all of that. I wrote it in my journal just like that. During some of the group discussion and meditation it became abundantly clear to me that we all have goals and problems and wishes and regrets and that they are just thoughts that come into our minds and we have to just let them go…pass by like clouds. These are the last chapters of my life and I am going to work very hard to make them the best chapters. I simply don’t want to waste any more time wondering about stuff that I can’t control, or that already happened, or is never going to happen…I have to just be present, live in this present moment, and do the work to make my present tense THE WELLIEST that I can.
The only extra credit that I need or want anymore is “what did I do today that was better for me than what I did yesterday?” The only winning I need anymore is the competition with myself, “how did you make better choices today than you did last week?” I might ask myself at bedtime…Did I bend deeper at yoga, did I balance with less wobble, did I breathe fully?? Did I make my purchases at the grocery store sensibly? Did I show kindness to someone who needed kindness? Was I compassionate to somebody who is struggling? I would never be mean on purpose to someone going through a hard time, yet for decades I beat myself up with negative self-talk and yet the person I should be most kind to is my own damn self! Wellness is a word that gets thrown around a lot, and to my mind it means simply a well-rounded life…nutrition, sleep, fitness, friendship, fulfilling work, enjoyable relaxation when necessary, finding beauty in the life we are living…these don’t seem like major hurdles one needs to jump over…it seems to me that with calm and deliberate changes to my own behaviors, my own choices, and most importantly my own self talk, I can be, and we all can be, our welliest selves yet!