My birthday is sometime next month. I will be closer to forty. A decade ago I would have considered my current self ancient. Now I consider the words of my forty-something friends. Are the forties really the best time of their lives? For some of them, it appears to be true. They seem established and prosperous. For others, I am not sure.
I can honestly say that I am not exactly where I expected to be at my age. I spent years of my life in limbo (personal and professional), so I am still playing catch-up, I have not lived up to my full potential just yet. After a divorce and a new marriage, I am still in relationship and family building mode. There are people my age who have kids in high school, and Gabe and I are still debating whether we should have another kid. Aren't I too old for this, I wonder. Won't I be too tired? I know there are some women my age and older who have put off having their first child until now. Is that a wise choice?
It is true that I have made up for lost time at work. In my ten-year career at Big Computer my salary and responsibilities have increased exponentially. I am quite happy with how it has evolved. Still, I can't help but think that I could be further along if I had started to build a career at a much younger age, as opposed to the choices I made in life. But is there anything constructive about that kind of thinking? Isn't that stepping into regret-land? I don't believe in regrets because it is pointless to obsess over stuff we can't change. And I am not sure that I want my career to move faster than it has. I have children, and I don't want more responsibilities if they require more time and/or increased travel, or if the stress will not allow me to sleep at night. Still, my mind sometimes tries to pull a fast one on me with that kind of thinking.
I can't assert that I have life figured out, honestly. I am still learning, still making mistakes. We are still struggling, building, developing. And I guess that is what surprises me. I expected people nearing their forties to have all their ducks in a row, to be in a cushy position and know exactly what they wanted in life and how to get it. I have a general idea of what I want for my future, and a sketch of a plan, but nothing definitive. And even though I have a good salary compared to my 1997 self, I don't have a safety net, and I still struggle sometimes to make ends meet. People I know talk about their retirement plans, how they are looking into foreign countries where the cost of living is lower than in the US. I have friends from Latin America who plan to go back to their countries to retire. At this point I have no clue if we will ever be able to retire, or if I will ever be able to go back home. Maybe I will, maybe I will not. I thought in my late thirties I would have an idea. I guess I'll have to wait another decade to find out.