“What I Know Now” is created by Chrisina Vuleta, the founder of the excellent website 40:20Vision.com, where forty somethings share all things “they wish they’d known then” with 20-somethings. May we all grow happily older AND wiser.
This 40-something woman moved from a small, conservative hometown in the South to New York City in pursuit of the “Friends” and “Sex and the City” lifestyle. After quickly realizing that TV land’s Manhattan was far from reality, she put her nose to the grindstone and found success in the financial services industry. She survived 9 / 11 but not without an emotional breakdown that caused her to reflect on what she wanted in life. She then married her long-time boyfriend, moved out of the city and became a mom. At forty, she found herself living in the ‘burbs and asking herself…is this it? This is what she wishes she knew in her twenties:
You have to evolve separately and together…
“I don’t think you have to believe in the same things or do everything together but you have to continue to grow as a unit together. What I know now is that it still falls on the individual person to do that. You can evolve separately but together at the same time. I went through a mid-life crisis where I questioned “Is this it?” To be honest, I have a good ‘it’…but I was reflecting on my life choices. I went to my husband and said, ‘I just don’t know if this is all I want but I need to figure it out.’ And I took a few weeks to myself to do just that.”
You have to question yourself in order to grow…
“It’s natural for relationships to have ebbs and flows. If you don’t question it sometimes or where you are in your life, I don’t know how you’re ever going to grow or make your relationship stronger. I knew I needed to find my smile again. I needed to find myself. Luckily, I have a partner who is strong enough and confident enough to say, “Okay you go do that. You figure it out because I can’t do it for you.” And vice versa. As much as I love my husband, if he’s going through a major life challenge, I can’t help him. He’s got to figure that out himself. It’s not my job to prop him up. It’s mutually supportive but not mutually dependent.”
You don’t need permission to find the self-confidence within yourself…
“I would’ve given anything to have that advice when I was in my twenties because I depended solely on my boyfriend to build me up. Am I dressed right? Do you think I’m good enough? Do you think I’m smart enough? Do you think I’m pretty enough to go out with you right now?” I didn’t give myself permission to gain that self-confidence within myself. I just didn’t have it back then.
If I had I’d known about self-acceptance and personal growth in my twenties, I’d be Gandhi:) But now I’ve gone through the whole therapy thing, I know that one of the tenets is that it’s got to be the “I.” At the end of the day, only you can get yourself through whatever mess you are in. You have to learn how to pick yourself up and to learn from your experiences. You may call it selfish but I try to take care of myself first and then work with my husband and then my kids. It’s important because you’re the only person that can give yourself confidence. It’s not your surroundings. It’s you.”
Thanks to this 40-something for sharing her story! It reminds me of a post I did a few months ago where a woman recommended having a mid-life crisis every few years. It’s a great way to make sure your life is in a alignment with your dreams and your values.
Chrisina Vuleta is the founder of 40:20Vision.com, where forty somethings share all things "they wish they'd known then" with 20-somethings. She's on a mission to give 20-somethings a head start on making decisions that are right for them. No more woulda, coulda, shoulda. Follow her on Twitter @4020vision.
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