Things seem to have slipped into a new groove in the past year. It's funny, it's what I had hoped would happen, but I thought it would take some kind of profound effort, or a series of ah-ha moments of self-realization and for years I've been waiting for that year, mood or motivation, waiting for a new moon to end all new moons. But it hasn't been that. I can't pinpoint why things have shifted, but I feel it beneath me.
I can't help but attribute some of this to my age. There's been a wheat-from-chaff characteristic to my late thirties. I know myself better and I know what I really want. The head-turning possible lives we all explore and dabble in in our twenties have resolved themselves and mostly retreated. Not that I think I've landed on perfect, easy decisions. But I've landed on ones that work with who I am at my core. Distractions are more quickly resolved when you know yourself.
This includes being single. I don't even really think about the idea of a relationship any more, though it is thrust at me sometimes by well-meaning friends. I've been in happy relationships, of course, and appreciate and admire the role they play in the lives of happy friends. I've been in really very unhappy relationships too, so I'm always loath to overestimate the value of being in one. Either way, I've always been my happiest on my own.
I didn't always feel this way. I had very normative ideals in my twenties. I wanted a husband, a house and children. I'm glad I had a chance to discover the alternative because I'm sure I'm happier for it. It troubles me sometimes when people start off defending an opinion by saying "I always felt this way". Like the less mutable our ideas are the truer they become. "I never wanted children" -- as if thinking maybe you did for a moment, indulging that idea fully, but then later discounting it would somehow undermine your position.
I don't know whether I was unsure about what I wanted or just really open-minded, but I entertained it all. I've been as mutable as the seas, wondering what I wanted, wanting different things, imagining all manner of happy outcome. But I also accept that where I've landed is right too. It's right precisely because it's where I am and because I feel content to be here.
(Of course, there are also things I feel less content about. And being single demands that I take full agency over decisions about where and how I live and work and all of that. There is no spouse or family support system and I know it's up to me alone to change the things that I don't feel content about... No more waiting for a perfect moment on that front!)
It's small and silly, but this summer I let the sun hit my face. I wore sunscreen (I'm not stupidly reckless), but I gave up fighting the small freckles that dot my nose. There are even some larger freckles that are probably age spots, but I gave up fighting them too. Here's what I got for that small surrender: I had the best summer. I ran and hiked and jumped in lakes and lay on grass and smelled the sun on my own skin and felt good. I accomplished fitness and health goals that have long seemed elusive.
Life is full of constraints, whether you're worried about some idea of what your life should look like or just about getting freckles. But at a certain point, you just have to do your best at what feels right and what feels good and what makes you happy. And sunburns aren't planned and are far from ideal. But, I'd rather get a sunburn on a day that's brimming with joy than get one because I wrapped myself head to toe but missed one little spot.
And I suppose that's where my head - and my life - is at right now.