I turned 35 recently, and took some time to reflect on the changes that I have made in my life over the last several years that have brought me to a place of deep contentment. My life is far from perfect, but I have worked hard to change the aspects of it that weren’t working. And even harder to bring positivity into it. Here’s what I’ve learned in reflecting upon these changes in my life:
Habits You Should Change Today
Deal with your issues
Y’all, I have anxiety something fierce. But being conscious of the fact that I suffer daily from a mental health disorder was not enough motivation for me to actually seek treatment. I took medication as a teen for depression, although that diagnosis never felt right. After the birth of my first child in my early 20’s I realized that anxiety was my true affliction, but still never really dealt with it aside from occasional therapy sessions.
Fast forward 10 years. Neglecting my own mental health was negatively affecting my children. I had no patience and was emotionally exhausted. I had to make radical changes in my life, which started with taking medication to help me deal with my anxiety. It wasn’t a quick fix, but it was the first step to lasting change. Pinpoint the recurring issues that are preventing you from moving forward in life, then make those changes a priority.
Figure out what brings you joy
I want to be the person who encourages you to “Do what you love.” But as a working mom, I also know that can be an impossible directive. Between work, kids, and relationships, it’s hard to find time to nurture oneself. And it’s even harder to find the time to figure out your calling, then focus energy on pursuing a major dream.
Instead, I focused on finding the small things that brought me joy: writing, comedy, sports, and learning. Then, I took small steps to incorporate more of them into my life. I set a goal to do one “me” thing each month, sometimes planning months in advance to ensure it happened. Surprisingly, the more I got out, the more opportunities I found to enjoy life. For example, I joined this amazing community of writers for a creative outlet and found support and friendship as well. So far the saying holds true, “You attract what you are, not what you want.”
Get out of a toxic job
I worked for a decade in an office that I hated. To clarify, I adored many of my coworkers and treasure the friendships that I made there. And I felt passionate about the work that I did and helping my clients. But the culture of the department was toxic, and seeped into every facet of my life, making Monday through Friday miserable. The thought of leaving terrified me. I had worked my way up from an entry-level technician to a supervisor. I felt not only loyal to the department, but obligated to continue working to improve the organization.
Then I took a leap of faith in a completely different direction and have never looked back. I found a job that suits my temperament and interests me. It also pays better and has more career advancement opportunities. It wasn’t until I left my old job that I realized how much of my resources had been invested in survival. Once I left that toxic space, I had energy to pursue the things that bring me joy.
Be with the people who make you feel good
I’ve been a mom for a long time. I thought being around other moms was the most soul-affirming choice that I could make. But I realized recently that as much as I adore my mom tribe, I also really, really love being around other people who have no connection to my kids at all. Part of being true to myself was realizing that I needed to re-establish my sense of self outside of being a mother. Hanging out at the softball field with coworkers. Hitting up comedy shows and lectures with non-parent friends. Happy hour with Mamas that I know and respect, but never have playdates with.
Inevitably, when I am with my mom tribe, talk turns to kids. But when I hang out with people who don’t know my kids, we discuss restaurants, race equity, and concerts. It’s refreshing. I adore my kids, but I am really growing into my post-infant mom identity as well.
Changes – a guaranteed constant in life
If you asked me three years ago where I would be today, this is not what I would have imagined. There have been so many changes in my life. So many leaps of faith. And so many new people and experiences that have deepened my appreciation for being alive. A fellow blogger wrote about the lessons she learned in her 40’s and I echo her appreciation for life. It takes work, but it is so worth it.
What changes have you made that improved your life? Share in the comments!
“may the flowers remind us,
why the rain was so necessary”
– Xan Oku