I realized tonight, at 36 years old, I am an old woman.
No, I have not lived a full lifetime. But what is a lifetime? For my son, it was only three years. For my grandma, it was cut short at 66. If I lost anyone in my life whom I treasure now, whether it be my grandpa in his eighties, my parents in their sixties, or my husband in his thirties, that lifetime would be too short.
But my 36 years of life have been filled with wisdom most people never cultivate, no matter what age they expire. I realized tonight, as I tried not to lecture, but encourage some young friends in their twenties, this wisdom may have to be learned by experience. But damnit, if I can teach it, I sure as hell am gonna try.
I wanted them to understand they never should settle, be confident in who they are, and not apologize for their convictions. If I only knew then what I know now.
I found myself giving advice (unsolicited maybe) to these wide-eyed, eager, and sweet-as-can-be twenty-somethings, who are embarking on careers that probably pay more than mine, educations worth more than mine, awareness of the new ‘real world’ way beyond mine. But my advice, though matronly, and possibly silly in their eyes, to me, at the ripe old age of 36, could have been so valuable to me in my twenties.
And that advice was this: You can have success, and riches, and power. You can fake who you are and what you believe to land the perfect career, the ideal partner, the most money. But at the end of the day, nothing matters but who you have by your side. And those people , the people that stick – no matter your career, or how much you make, or the shape of your body, or who you marry – those people love you for you. Your integrity, and the fact that you are good for the sake of being good, is enough.
So, as an old woman, please, let me teach you one thing in my old age of 36. Be good. Maintain your integrity, and follow your heart. The rest will work itself out.