Once upon a time, most of us knew exactly what was expected of us and we yearned to meet those expectations: get an education, find a good job, have some fun until you find a nice partner, and eventually start a family. About 80% of women will accomplish this by the time we are 40, but then a funny thing happens, as we realize we are at the half-way point in our life expectancy– we find ourselves asking some difficult questions: can I keep working the same job and/or living with the same partner for another 20 years? Are there things I have left undone and still want to accomplish before it is too late? And beneath it all is the ultimate question: what do I need to be truly happy?
Those that find themselves contemplating the road that lies ahead are not having a mid-life crisis, but rather are reassessing where they are versus where they want to be. At this critical juncture, many often first default to looking for a new roadmap. Indeed it is wise to read and learn about the journeys of others, mainly to gain courage and inspiration. Ultimately, however, you need to do some soul-searching on your own– dig into your past and make peace with it. You need to understand and appreciate the bizarre series of events that transpired to get you to where you are today. Then, you need to let go– forgive the past and surrender to the unpredictable nature of what the future holds in store for all of us.
After my divorce, I delved deep into my past and went in search of answers about my family’s complex history. Once I pieced that puzzle together, I stupidly tried to zoom ahead, which is how I wound up calling off an engagement that never should have happened. In the year that followed, I meditated every day and spent a great deal of time reading spiritual books, with my favorite being “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.” Only after I truly accepted that there really is not much I can control in this world did the full picture come together in all its splendor.
So, don’t waste your time looking for a roadmap that does not exist. Instead, embrace the notion of navigating your own vessel through unchartered waters. There will be storms, no doubt. But there is a reason they say “smooth sailing does not make for skilled sailors.” Face each challenge building on the courage you have developed with each trial and tribulation you have endured thus far, and look ahead with and open mind, genuine curiosity and cautious optimism. With time, you will truly appreciate that there is no road map.
Build your own path, and in the meantime enjoy the journey.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.