This week I’m celebrating my birthday! Another year older, another year wiser. I feel this sentiment really holds true this year.
The past year has been a big leap for me in terms of my personal growth. I committed to “living life as the best version of myself”. Take that for what you want, but for me, it’s of great importance.
I’ve spent many past birthdays feeling like I was wasting my time here in this one precious life. I wasn’t living in a way that felt true to me and I knew it. I also knew that I wasn’t taking any initiative to change that.
Flashback to early 2020 when we all hit the pause button in lockdown. It was that pause that allowed me to reassess the trajectory of my life.
In retrospect, it came at the perfect time for me because I was exactly MIDLIFE.
A Midlife Intermission
We spend so much time in the first part of life trying to figure out who we are, where our passions lie, and what truly matters to us.
I am grateful this year on my birthday that I feel like I’m coming from a place where I’ve finally figured out some of this stuff. At least I’d like to think I have or maybe I don’t really know anything at all still!
I’ve been thinking about midlife almost like an intermission. I’ve done Act 1 and now it’s the perfect time to pause and reset for Act 2.
This midlife intermission is when I get to decide what it is I want to bring forward with me into my second act.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on my Act 1 and what I’ve learned, what I think I got right and what I would’ve done differently if given the chance.
If I could write a letter to my younger self…
Here are some things I might say:
Don’t be afraid to spend time alone
My younger self thought having nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon or no one to spend the day with was depressing. I used to feel uneasy being alone with my own thoughts and therefore a day by myself with idle time was something I avoided.
Instead I found myself engaging in activities I knew I didn’t enjoy simply so I would not be alone. Now I realize spending time alone is healthy (and not so scary). It’s a way to care for yourself and a meaningful way to get to know yourself better.
These days, I can’t get enough of my alone time. Of course, now being a wife and mom to 2 young boys, my alone time is harder to come by and sometimes I feel selfish taking time to myself.
I wish I would’ve cherished it more in my younger years.
Stop looking to the world to tell you who you are
You are not what brand of jeans you wear or how much money you earn. You are not your job description or the size of your house. You are not how organized your closet is or how much of what you feed your kids is organic.
None of those things define you.
You’ve spent too much time looking to outside sources to tell you who you are. Forget the world’s expectations and look within yourself.
Stop living for the approval of others. You will never be able to please everyone.
You are the only one who can define who you want to be, the rest is just noise.
Unbecome everything the world is whispering in your ear, all of the expectations and roles you’ve been told to play. Then, you will find who you really are.
“Unbecome until you uncover who you really are.”– Glennon Doyle, from “Love Warrior”
Sit in the discomfort of uncertainty
It’s ok to feel uncertain about what you want and which direction you want to go in life. Explore different things and see what feels right. If nothing seems to fit, keep looking…you will eventually find your way.
The biggest mistake you will make is to stop trying to figure out what lights you up. Everything you do, every experience you have will mold you into the person you will eventually become.
Don’t let the discomfort of fear or uncertainty stop you from learning about yourself.
Uncertainty is ok….see where it takes you.
Embrace the present
There’s no need to be so serious. You spend too much time worrying about the future and dwelling on the past.
Stop wasting your precious time on the what-ifs of the future. It’s futile to worry about the what-if’s when the vast majority of them will never come to be.
Likewise, if you keep focusing on things you can’t change from the past, you will miss out on all that is here in the present moment.
You only get one life to live so enjoy it by embracing the present.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”― Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism
Be grateful for all you have
Once you learn to be grateful for all of the beauty in your life, you will find peace and contentment.
You have been given so many advantages in life. Most of which are simply due to good fortune. Why spend time dwelling on what you think is lacking when there is so much more for which to be grateful?
It’s important that you learn to focus on all the good things you have in your life, rather than on what you feel is missing. Your mind will always go to the negative first, so remind it everyday of the positive.
You will be so much happier once you are able to embrace gratitude.
A Letter to My Younger Self
I can now look back on some of the struggles of my younger years and chuckle a bit. Challenges that felt monumental and life-altering at the time were really just growing pains.
If only I could’ve had my present day self to guide me along the way….
What would you say in a letter to your younger self? Let me know in the comments!
Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.