Yesterday I turned 40. I never cared about my age. I never thought about birthdays other than as a great time to eat cake! But this year 40 was different. 40 was heavy. 40 felt dark. 40 required me to take stock of my life.

When I was a kid I thought at 40 I would have a husband for many years, a kid or three, a house, a white picket fence, blah blah blah. My life didn’t take that direction. I’m 40 and single; though that isn’t entirely my choice, I am comfortable with myself and the journey I’m on and truly believe someday I will meet a man who has done the same amount of work on his own journey for us to create something next level together. I don’t have kids and at this point I likely won’t; though sometimes I grieve that loss, most of the time I am thankful I haven’t lost freedom. I have lived in my apartment for 10ish years because I WANT to; I don’t want to buy a property in Appleton, I plan to buy a property in Bonaire; I LOVE not cutting grass, shoveling snow, and I have two pole studios to worry about maintenance with so love my maintenance free apartment. These are choices I have made to build a life I want.

When I drop the societal expectations that I thought I would have, I am 90% ish elated with my life. So why then do I feel like I can’t celebrate it? My life looks different from the society life. But I chose this life. Heck, I created this life! So why do I feel like I can’t share it?

One of my best friends doesn’t live near here and has two little boys. I sent her a picture on a recent dive trip that I wasn’t sharing on social media and then felt guilty because she was having a rough day with one of her kids and here I was sending a “vacation” picture. “Not a sensitive move Paula!” was what I was thinking after I sent it. So I said to her “does it bother you that my life phase is so different”. And because she is a truly great friend and a wise wise sage she said “we get to be friends in many life phases”. God I love her.

But it got me thinking. I often don’t post things on FB because I don’t want to appear like I’m boasting or rubbing my travels in faces. I travel often in non-covid times and have had people say “must be nice” type comments because they don’t choose to travel. I have built my life to be able to travel often. That has been a priority to me; I have made choices to facilitate that choice. But here’s the deal, my traveling is the same to me as you posting a picture of your kid’s event; you have made choices to facilitate giving your child that experience. We are in different life phases. That doesn’t make mine boastful it is just that mine looks different from the societal norms.

What I realized is that by not sharing MY journey it makes me feel like mine is less. Like I’m hiding what I’m doing and that somehow means what I’m doing is wrong. That was one of the epiphanies I had while look at my 40 years on the planet, that not sharing makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. It isn’t wrong. My life and the choices I’ve made to be where I am now, isn’t wrong, or less or anything other than me. You get to do you. I get to do me. We both have chosen our current life phases. We both should share them with confidence and joy! I am going to stop wondering if my fourth international trip this year is “too much” come November and instead I am going to post the pictures for the memories later and to share my joy now. If you aren’t comfortable to be my friend in “many life phases”, then cool, you don’t have to be. But I only have the life phase I’m in at the moment I need to celebrate it. What do you need to celebrate?