Okay, so I’m turning 40 tomorrow (the 8th November).
I know how everyone says that you only really KNOW yourself once you’re over the age of 30 – and in my case, it’s certainly true! I can honestly say that I am very comfortable with “Heather” – all those wasted years of low self-esteem and self-doubt… I’m finally in a place where I can comfortably embrace who I am (AND who I’m not)… and, you know what – it’s awesome!
So! In honour of my 40 years on this planet – here are 10 truths that I have (finally) come to love and accept about myself:
1. I WILL NEVER BE NORMAL.
And when I say “normal”, I mean that I will always be an up-stream-swimmer… a rule-breaker… a person who deliberately rebels against the Status Quo… someone who just doesn’t WANT to do things the same way as “everyone else” seems to want to do them. It’s in my DNA to take risks.. test the limits… and do things differently. I have always been like this (ask my mother… ask my school teachers) – but, I have (finally) come to accept it and embrace it (instead of worrying too much about whether people think I’m a nutter).
2. I AM NOT A PANICKER
You know how… if the lights suddenly go off in a public place – that one or two (or irritatingly more) people (usually women) let out an ear-piercing scream? Well, I am not that person. I am not the “screamer” when the lights go out. I’m not the couch-hopper when a mouse scuttles past. And even when disaster actually does strike – I think calmly and rationally under pressure. I’m not the flustered person running in circles screaming and weeping and flailing arms. I know this because it has been put to the test a few times. I was a victim of theft in the city fairly recently. While stopping our car at a red light, we were approached by a man who suddenly smashed the passenger window (where I was sitting in the passenger seat). He wrenched my cell phone out of my hand and took off. Sitting in the seat, covered in glass, my hand still in the “shape” of the missing phone… I turned to Nick and blandly said: “Well, that’s a great start to the evening”. I seem to be missing the PANIC!! gene. (My sister seems to be missing it too – and she’s had considerably more reason to panic than me). And yes… I have seen dead bodies… bleeding children… and other horrible things – but still – my first reaction is to respond rationally… almost dead-pan robot-like. So, either I’m a heartless psychopath… or I’d make a good candidate as a war-zone reporter.
3. FOOD WILL ALWAYS BE MY KRYPTONITE
I don’t like admitting this. I always dreamed of the day when I would be 100% free of the lure of food (but then again – I wonder if any of us are free of the lure of food – especially unhealthy foods that taste so ridiculously yummy!). But I think that food will always… tempt me. That said, I am in a much healthier and happier place regarding my response to food (I no longer FEAR food or obsess about food… I no longer diet… I no longer own a scale… and I no longer hate my body). Does that mean I can just binge on nutella and carrot cake indefinitely? No. Does it mean I’ve quit eating nutella and carrot cake forever? No. It means I enjoy the nutella and carrot cake… on occasion… without obsessing about it. And for now, it seems as though a treaty has been struck between myself… my body… and The Food. And that’s a good thing.
4. I’M A “QUESTIONER” – NOT A “KNOWER”.
I wrote a post about this (from a religious perspective) here. But, even aside from the religious perspective, I am the annoying person who questions everything… and ESPECIALLY The so-called Rules (any rules!). I’m the person who asks: “Why do we eat cereal for breakfast? Why not cereal for supper? Why does the pudding come after the main course? Who invented courses and meal times anyway? Why do little boys wear blue and little girls wear pink? Is pink a “girl’s colour” – why? Is blue a “boy’s colour” – why?“….. (and many, many more)
One of the most frustrating ways that a person can respond to one of my ‘why’ questions, is to say the following: “Because that’s the way it’s always been done!”. Grrr. If ever there was an infuriating ‘answer’ to a question, it’s that one!
5. I’M AN ADVENTURER AT HEART AND I THRIVE ON CHANGE
Perhaps my parents thought it was a passing phase. I was the child who was seldom indoors. I was always outside, exploring, digging up “hidden treasure”, building forts and tree-houses… pretending that I was stranded on desert islands…
As it turns out, I have a deep thirst for adventure – and especially adventure that takes me to new places and allows me to experience new things and meet new people.
I realise that there are many people on this earth who are settlers. They feel comfortable and secure with a daily, predictable routine. They plan ahead. They don’t like unexpected “surprises” disrupting their schedule. They take comfort in being in control of all aspects of their lives.
I am the polar opposite to that person. I feel trapped by routine. I become depressed when my life is predictable. I become miserable without regular injections of change and newness. As a teenager, I would re-decorate my bedroom almost every month. I’d move my furniture around… put new pictures on the wall… change everything I could. It was my way of trying to escape my daily routine of sameness that I loathed so deeply.
I’m still that “Heather” – and that’s why the prospect of an unplanned (and indefinite) journey around the world with my family fills me with a deep sense of excitement – but also a sense of acknowledging that, yes – this is who I am. This is how I’m designed.
6. I’M NOT SCARED… BUT I AM…
I’m not scared of snakes, spiders, rats or other creatures. I’m not scared of heights or depths or swimming with sharks – or visiting poor and desperate communities that other people label “dangerous” . I’m not scared about selling everything I own. I’m not scared of hanging with the “dirty” people… or holding and hugging people who are sick or dying. I’m not scared about “my future”. I’m not scared for my children… or my husband.
In general, I’m not scared.
What I am scared of is this: your poisonous tongue. Your harsh, critical words. Your troll remarks on my blog. Your vicious attacks on my character. Your mean, hateful words. Yes – I’m scared of WORDS. I admit it!
I do NOT like that I am scared of words. I deeply and desperately wish that I could be completely unaffected by the negative words of other people. I wish they didn’t infect me… and affect me… the way they do. I wish!
But I am one of those people with a Words-of-Affirmation Love Language. I’ve always been this way. And as much as words of love and encouragement are like beautiful balm to my soul….. so negative and critical words have always hurt me… deeply.
Again – I wish it weren’t so. But, after 40 years… I think I’m finally coming to the realisation that it’s who I am.
You know that childhood rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”...? Well – my version goes like this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will break my heart”.
7. I’M A PACIFIST… UNLESS…
I hate… loathe… war. Guns and weapons and people killing each other – it makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t understand how someone can justify blowing someone else to pieces – and especially innocent civilians… and especially children. The way that children suffer in war-torn countries breaks my heart… and makes me deeply, deeply angry at the injustices suffered by those considered “collateral damage” in times of war. One of my favourite quotes is from Francis Fenelon:
“All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers. Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born”
(and I would add that each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to any particular religion that he believes in).
I’m also a pacifist in my personal life. I don’t like fighting with people. I don’t like arguing. I try to avoid (as much as possible) fights and arguments… (and probably also because I fear the mean words which may be fired in my direction)…
Interestingly, I speak up (very firmly) when I witness injustice. I got soooo angry with an ex-boss after he had humiliated his factory staff by screaming at them and insulting them (in a way that was so vile, that I still get angry when I recall the scene). When he returned to the office area (where I was) – I was filled with such a deep rage that I was… literally… shaking. I slammed my fist so hard on my desk (that my pen holder toppled over and rolled off the table) and I said: “How DARE you! How DARE you treat those people like that! How dare you scream at them and humiliate them like that!”
My boss was offended that I had told-him-off in such a manner and suggested that I leave. I agreed, and quit my job that day.
So yes… injustice infuriates me. Bullies (of all kinds)… whether the bullies at school… bullies at work… bullying corporations or bullying nations… make me ANGRY. But – (because I’m a pacifist and it’s not in my nature to seek death / destruction or deliberate hurt… even to the hurtful) – I try to approach the situation from a more positive, solution-finding position. I don’t believe in revenge. I believe in restoration and reconciliation.
9. MY FAMILY MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME
I am very fortunate and blessed. I’m not only married to a wonderful man, I’m happily married to a wonderful man – and we’ve been married for almost 8 years.
I come from a family plagued by divorce. My parents are divorced, my sister is divorced. All of my aunts and uncles are divorced (except for ONE couple on my Dad’s side of the family and ONE couple on my Mom’s side of the family). On Nick’s side of the family… his sister is divorced and his brother is currently in the process of getting divorced. And – let’s not forget – that I’m also divorced. I was previously married myself. So I totally “get” what it feels like to be in a shitty marriage… and I also understand the pain and heartache of divorce.
Because of all this relationship turmoil that I have witnessed and been a part of… it has made me deeply, deeply grateful for my relationship with Nick. Marriage is something that either has the potential to make your life absolutely wonderful – or absolute hell. There’s few things more lonely and disheartening than feeling trapped in a horrible marriage. And, at the same time, few things more beautiful than spending quality time with the love of my life and our children.
I don’t want to waste this. I don’t want to waste our lives away with crazy-busy schedules where we barely have any time to spend with the people we love the most. One of the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying was the deep remorse they felt over having worked too hard (and for too many hours) and neglected spending time and truly sharing their lives with those they loved the most.
I am determined not to die with THAT regret!!
And that’s why it’s top priority to treasure my family… and spend as much quality time with them as possible. Because, one day, the kids will grow up and start their own lives. And one day, Nick and I will get old. And life will grow shorter… and I do NOT want to be saying: “If only….” “If only…” “If only….”
10. I WANT TO DO SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST “SURVIVE” THIS LIFE…
Life is a precious gift. And it’s short. And so few people follow their dreams or do the things that make them come alive. I know what’s important in my life – and I know what’s NOT important.
My family is important. Driving a fancy car is not important. Being happy is important. Attaining a higher ‘status’ is not important. Following our dreams is important. Following fashion is not important. Raising confident, creative, happy children is important. Buying my children the newest toy and the latest gadget is not important. A happy marriage is important. A big house is not important.
You get the picture.
Nick and I have decided to focus on the things that are important (to us). And not to waste time and energy (and money) on the stuff that isn’t.
Additionally, we both want to contribute to this world in a positive way… and use our talents and abilities for the Greater Good (and not ONLY to make money). We’ve found it to be such a rewarding way to live and work.
I want to leave this world after making a positive impact – some how – some way. I don’t want to “survive” this life… or “get by”… or “make do”. I want to LIVE!
And finally… for fun… here are some interesting facts I bet you never knew about me!
- I once secretly wee’d in someone’s shoe (whilst sitting in the back seat of his car).
- I still have my tonsils… but I no longer have my wisdom teeth or my gall bladder.
- I can rap “Ice Ice Baby” in an accent of your choice! 🙂
- I love the smell of window putty!
- I can eat a medium-sized jar of Nutella in one sitting.
- I once bit a Rotweiller’s ear (out of sheer desperation, mind. I was trying to get her to release the Border Collie she was viciously attacking).
- I’m qualified as a NAUI Open Water 2 Scuba Diver (and I love diving!)… (and I love the sea!).
- I got fired from my first two jobs (it quickly became clear that I didn’t like being told what to do. I still don’t).
- Nick and I met in a band. I was the keyboardist / vocalist… he was the bass guitarist. I still get weak at the knees when I watch him play bass.
- I can sing every song from “The Sound of Music”, “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot”. I also know the words (and all the verses) of countless Christmas carols. I seem to have a knack for retaining useless information (i.e.: the lyrics of various songs – especially the oldies!).
- One of my dreams is to go husky-dog-sledding in Alaska. And I want to see the Northern Lights.
- And I could type this random stuff forever… so I’ll end off for now! 🙂