Life’s Lessons From a 40-Something
Updated: Sep 7
As the world is dealing with the pandemic, I begin to think on what is going to happen to us as we struggle to deal with this. Can we still see a new sunrise? Will our children still have a bright future? Can we get through this? When we think of the worst to happen, we tend to ponder on what we have achieved in our lives and the things that we should have done.
People always tell me how lucky I am for having such a great life. If they would only know what I’ve been through, they would weep. I also have my share of disappointments and defeats. My life has been far from perfect. Behind that smile is a frustrated soul. Behind that laughter is a shattered heart. But I’ve always made it a point not to be engulfed by my failures. I stand up every time I fall. I pick up the broken pieces. I move on.
I’ve been in this world long enough to learn a lot of lessons along the way. And these have kept me saner and tougher. These lessons have made me survive as I go through the changing times in life. I’m sure most of you can relate to these lessons.
Let go of the hurt in the past. Somebody had hurt me so bad. I couldn’t even describe the pain I felt then. Yes, I cried a bucket but after that, I accepted what happened and moved on. I never lingered on it. I let go. Years after, remembering about it just makes me smile. When we let go of the hurt, we have inner peace. We are happier.
There are things beyond our control. During my recent trip to Singapore, my flight was delayed for 24 hours. Before that, I was grilled by the Immigration Officer at the Davao International Airport. I thought everything was going to be smooth upon arriving in Singapore, but I was also scrutinized by the Immigration Officer. I started to feel angry because I didn’t expect it to happen not to mention being so exhausted. I was disheartened. Then I realized that I didn’t have any control of what was happening. It was bound to happen. So, okay, I just charged it to experience. But my siblings blamed it on my newly dyed red hair. :) Anyway, the best thing that came out from the delay was that we were housed in a 5-star hotel in Davao City with free breakfast and lunch while waiting for our flight the next day to Singapore.
We always have a choice. While I was deciding to quit my job, I was torn between staying and leaving. Of course, I still needed the job, but I couldn’t handle the demands. It was taking a toll on me. So, I made a choice. I chose to quit. You see, I always believe that we always have a choice. Maybe there isn’t much. Let go or keep? Leave or stay? Buy or not? These are choices so, we do always have one.
Some people don’t stay. People come and go in our lives. I learned this lesson when I had my first heartbreak. No matter how we want people to stay, some of them will go. A friend for 30 years just unfriended me. I’ve loved her and now, I’m not a part of her life anymore. I’m not angry. But I’ll be lying if I say I’m okay because I’m not. I’m truly hurt. I guess life goes on without her. But I still want to thank her for being there for me when I needed someone the most and for the memories we’ve shared together.
Forgive and move on. Somewhere along the way, someone may hurt us. It’s one of the harsh realities in life. I was in a most freezing point in my life years ago. The people that I considered my friends turned their backs on me, unfairly judged me and said harsh things behind my back. But I let go of that pain. I forgave them. In fact, I’m still friends with most of them until now. Forgiving someone gives us inner peace. It’s easy to move on when we let go of the pain.
Always look at the bright side of a bad situation. When my mother suffered a stroke, I prayed fervently that she would come out of it. But I guess she was not meant to live longer. I was so hurt. I was angry. But then I realized that it was better that her suffering ended because if she lived, we would all be drained emotionally, mentally, psychologically, physically and financially. And as much as we wanted her to live, we wouldn’t want her to suffer longer. There’s always a reason for everything. All we need to do is accept it has happened and move on.
You can’t please everybody. When I was younger, I was always particular with what people say or feel about me. I would feel bad if someone wouldn’t treat me nice or would ignore me. I would always try my best to please everyone. But as I grew older, I realized it’s such a waste of time trying to please people who don’t like you. Accept the fact that there will be people who don’t want you to be a part of their lives. What can I say? The feeling is mutual.
Always choose to be kind. I was waiting for my food longer than I expected when the waiter served me the wrong one. I was already very hungry at that time, but the waiter was apologetic so, I opted to keep my cool and let it go. I’m not really the confrontational type and what if he was having a hard time then? I always believe in the saying “What goes around comes around”. So, I always put myself in someone else’s shoes before reacting violently. I always remind my nieces and my nephews to be always kind. That’s what my father had taught us, too.
Spend more time with your family and loved ones. When I was working in Singapore, I always went home for Christmas every year. I know it’s expensive but that didn’t matter. It’s the only time we could be complete. I have a lot of regrets not spending more time with my parents when they were still alive and then they passed away. I don’t want to make the same mistake. Life is short. It is fragile. It is unpredictable. So, we may as well spend it with our loved ones while we still can. Regrets always come last.
Pay it forward. I once helped someone years ago which took a toll on me. But I didn’t wait for something in return. I was just happy that I did that person well. When I help others, I don’t ask for something in return. I want them to pay it forward. I want them to help others who need help, too. It’s a chain which we all shall not break. It’s the best definition of helping people.
In times of trouble, you will know who your real friends are. When you’re in deep trouble, you will surely know who will turn you away or be with you at your lowest time. When you’re drowning, they may just watch you drown or get a rope for you to hold on to. It hurts but it’s also really one of the harsh realities in life.
We are responsible for the choices we make. Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way we want them to be. Don’t blame others for the consequences of your decisions and your choices. You decide. You do. It’s all because of you. Nobody can help yourself more but you. That’s why it’s very imperative that we think before we act. Deliberate before we do. Our choices can either break or make us.
Whatever we decide to feel today determines our day. We are always responsible for our thoughts and feelings. I always believe when we decide what to feel when we wake up in the morning will determine our mood for the day. When you wake up happy, your day will be happy all throughout even if you’re having a hard time. If you wake up cranky, expect that everything is going to be bad until the day ends. So, which mood do you want it to be?
Don’t listen to what people think of you. We all have different issues in life. We don’t travel the same road. You follow your passion. You reach for your dreams. When people tell you that you can’t make it, let it fall on deaf ears. It’s better that you have tried than not having done anything at all. If people judge you, let them be. They don’t know your story and you don’t owe anybody an explanation. At the end of the day, the only person that you must please is yourself.
Don’t judge a person. A friend was having an affair with a married man. A lot of people came to me talking harshly about her. I still opted to keep mum about it. I knew she acknowledged her mistake. I didn’t tolerate it, but I let her be because at the end of the day, it’s she who could make it right. Most of the time, we tend to judge somebody for what they are or for what they have done. We all go through a tough time in our lives sometimes. So, before we judge people, we need to know the reason behind it. We don’t want to be judged, too.
Before I end this blog, let me tell you that I don’t consider myself successful in my 40’s. I just have been through a lot in life and I have gotten out of it. I once told a couple of friends about what I felt then. One told me that I’m already successful because I’ve done well for my family especially my sisters who already finished law school. One said that since I could still pass for a younger woman, then I should consider it a success. Maybe she’s right. I’m already nearing 50 but I can still don a bikini. I think it's a bit of a success, isn’t it? :)