Every Sunday I usually share three gifts a 40-something woman would give a 20-something if they were a “Forty-Godmother”. Today I’m offering you three gifts inspired by my Dad.
1. The “age is just a number attitude”: “You are only young once but you can be immature forever.” (many sources)
My dad defies age stereotypes and often cited this quote to me. It’s not about being juvenile but it is about maintaining a zest, a spontaneity and not letting someone else’s definition of what is appropriate for your age limit you. The other day I saw a Huffington Post article about the 3o bad things about turning 40. I couldn’t relate to any of them. You don’t have to lament not being able to wear sequins or know what is on MTV. If those are things that you enjoy, that give you energy and make you feel awesome…then figure out a way to do it that fits into your life. I just bought a shirt with sequins that is extremely tasteful, fun and can rock jeans and tennis shoes or an evening out. I would just say go for what makes you feel good…not what you think makes you appear younger! But as I read that list I was grateful to my dad for teaching me never to fear getting older.
My dad and brothers off on an adventure to Costa Rica last year …at 82 Dad never stops wanting to travel and explore the new!
My 40-something sequin fun!
2. Find something you love doing and then figure out a way to love doing it.
This is a much debated attitude these days. Does it set up false expectations or delay committed work life as you are waiting for passion to strike? My dad often said he was lucky enough to find a way to make money doing what he loved. Not long ago I called him on this. I said, “Okay but I recall hearing a story that you went into metallurgical engineering because it was named one of the promising future careers in Time Magazine or something”. He said, “Yes but I was good at physics and science and really enjoyed doing it so then I found the path that had the most future potential growth in it.” Aha. I found this was remarkably similar to my theory of the career tree and trying to marry your interests and strengths.
I can once again thank my dad for my current loving of what I do. Of course if what you love doing is making money….then that will obviously drive a different path. You make choices. My Dad was often offered more leadership positions (he was an academic) which he turned down because he loved research and teaching. In the end, his passion and disruption in science gave him the same level of prestige and honor as the hierarchical route. This taught me to be open to sideways and lateral moves that allow your strengths to shine rather than get lost in the ladder.
3. Nobody is perfect. Embrace your own and accept others imperfections.
My dad often teased me as a kid…okay and the rest of the family too…because I was stubborn and also had a tendency to get stuck in the idea of perfection This is a picture of me on a family trip somewhere when I decided I didn’t like the hotel room and refused to enter it. So I sat out in the hallway by myself missing out on who knows what! He would remind me of this picture whenever I was taking myself too seriously and it taught me to laugh at myself.
I do laugh now and think on one hand — I’m happy I knew what I liked and had strong opinions. But the other side of that is the tendency to not try for fear of not doing things perfectly. Sometime this happens as a teen girl when you suddenly don’t want to try out for a sport because maybe you are not good at it or sometimes you can lose it in a relationship as you try to please someone else. But the only one losing is you. So learn to love your imperfections, be able to laugh at your failed attempts at something new and try again.
And as you get older you realize more and more that no one else is perfect either. Even though I think my dad is perfect..he recently told me that even he is not:) He was reminding me not to expect perfection in a partner or your friends.