I recently turned 40 years old. And I love my age. On my birthday I practically shouted to the roof tops about it. In fact, I did shout it out on Facebook. My friends and family graciously congratulated me.
And I think congratulations are in order. Not for reaching this milestone so much as for choosing happiness.
I’m a much happier person at 40 than I was at 20. It’s too bad I didn’t have the self-confidence and drive back then to make my own happiness. I probably would have made some different life choices.
Like opting not to wear chambray shirts.
I see those hipsters trying to bring chambray back into fashion, and I ask you – why? Nobody over the age of 10 looks good in chambray. Nobody.
But perhaps my chambray wardrobe choice of days gone-by has helped make me who I am today. Because eventually I looked at photos of myself in my sleeveless, button-down chambray shirt and said no, there must be a better way. And that’s the path I pursued. And it’s all about the journey, right?
Since I like who I am and I love my life, than maybe it’s a good thing I made the decisions I did (good and bad).
Who knows, people of the world. As much as I loathe the look, your chambray shirt choices of the past — be it 20 years ago or 20 minutes ago — may be life-changing.
Slight exaggeration of course but there’s something to be said about looking back at how you got from point A to point B. Acknowledging the detritus you left behind and the awesome people and experiences you’ve held tight. How it’s made you better. Stronger.
It took me a good long while to learn that happiness is a decision I need to make. A choice of how want to live and who I want to be. I say this with a strong understanding of depression and it’s ability to take over a person’s life. Depression runs in my family. I’m not oblivious to its toll.
But there is no one holding me back from living the life I want. I’m not molding myself to fit anyone else’s expectations. Wasted effort.
I’m keeping to my own truth and establishing how I want to live from there.
Often, we are asked about those pivotal or life-changing moments that flip our outlook and perspective. Those moments that change everything. Our personal histories are full of these moments, and there are two that stand out for me:
- breaking my back cliff-diving in 2001 and the associated pulmonary ambolism (good times were not had)
- the birth of my daughter in 2009 (definitely good times)
Both experiences flipped my life completely. Beyond what I ever thought possible. And they’ve made me appreciate my past. They’ve helped me to be present in my present. And they’ve helped me to look forward to a future I am creating for myself.
Yes, bad things happen. A terrible truth. And we all make mistakes. I’ve made some seriously bad kick-me-in-the-ass choices (chambray shirt example to name one) but I’ve learned from them. Failure is okay. Being happy is okay too.
And you know what? This outlook gives me a sense of relief. Because I get to be who I want to be. Who I am. Without worrying about the expectations of people who frankly don’t matter.
Whether you’re 20 or 40 or somewhere in between, I hope you do the same.
(That said, if you choose to wear chambray, I will mock you. Mercilessly.)
[update: April 26, 2013] – Per Amy’s comment below, I’m clarifying that chambray = denim. So all you denim-shirt wearers…I’m calling you out! (Including you, Amy. Including you.)