I caught a little snippet of an author on NPR this morning. He was being interviewed about his new book. I neither caught the name of the book, nor did I catch the author's name (I'll get back with you on that), but I DID catch this intriguing point: Everyone has an age range when he or she is his authentic self. For example, perhaps you were at your best in high school, or perhaps you were at your best as the mother of an infant. Think of how many wise old people you have known who were full of wisdom because of the hardships they had endured when young.
Perhaps it is a bit like when Dr. Oz runs the battery of tests on the guests to see what their 'real' age is. Maybe a man is actually 34 years old, but his 'health age' is 48 because he smokes, drinks and eats McDonalds twice a week. Well, maybe it's not like that at all.
So my question is this one: what is your 'golden' age bracket when you are your authentic self? Is it your twenties? Your forties? Your eighties? The author spoke of being a small child with a fifty-year-old man inside. Obviously, he didn't have the wisdom and experience of a fifty-year-old man, but his social and intellectual strengths were well-suited to that bracket of his life.
My twenties were very hard for me. Leaving a career I loved to stay home with small children was my choice, and a choice I will never regret. For me, there wasn't any other option. I always knew I would be home with my children when they were small, even if we had to make major sacrifices to do it, but it was hard. Ten times harder than anything else I've ever done. But like anything else that pushes the boundaries of your strengths and abilities, I did love it. But was I good at it? Was I my most authentic self during that time? Definitely not.
What about you? It's an interesting thing to ponder as we look at our siblings, our parents and especially our children. When I used to teach eighth grade, I told parents time and time again, "School is hard--socially, physically-- at this age. Your son/daughter is struggling with it. BUT I can promise you that he/she is going to be an awesome adult, a smart, responsible, interesting, educated adult." Because I could see it. Many of the smartest, most educated, happiest adults I know had the toughest time as a kid.
So I wonder if there are things we can do to get to our authentic self at any age? It would stand to reason that there are elements of that age of your authentic self that you could translate to your current age. I know my husband misses playing organized sports. Could he somehow incorporate that into his life now (without living vicariously though the kids which isn't good-ha ha)? Could he play more golf? tennis? Join a pick-up hockey league? Some people miss the constant intellectual challenge of graduate school. Couldn't you take classes and do other things to recreate that feeling, that challenge?
I believe that God's biggest plans for us are when we're in the zone of our authentic self, using all our strengths and gifts to help others, often in unexpected ways. So thinking about this authentic self business isn't just talk, it's part of our responsiblity. (?) Maybe.
Just a little food for thought this gorgeous Tuesday morning. Have a lovely day, and let me know what you think about your authentic selves!
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.