Tuesday, 1 January 2013

On being a Grown Up

During the recent American elections, I watched an interview with President, Barack Obama, and First Lady, Michelle Obama. President Obama's charisma, charm, wit and intelligence is well known. But I found myself in awe of Michelle Obama. She is equally charismatic, charming, witty and intelligent. Not to mention she's a strong, confident, career-oriented and independent woman, who is also a very loving wife and mother. I found myself saying "when I grow up, I want to be just like her". Hang on a minute, aren't I already a grown up? I'm certainly old enough to be classified as one. But then again, being older isn't just about a number (or two). 

As another birthday has come to pass and another year rolls around, I began to reflect on what being a grown up really means. When did I start to think myself as one? Here are just some of the moments in my life that signalled that I was growing up, and well and truly stepped into the adult world.

When I could accept that life does not always go according to my meticulously crafted plan. 

When I realised that it really won't be the end of the world.

When I realised that there was much more - so, so, much more - to life than my career. 

When I pricked up courage to be imperfect and discovered that I didn't mind if people caught a glimpse of the real, real me - warts and all. 

When I learnt that relationships can change and some don't stand the test of time. 

When I finally understood that the body I had in my twenties was never coming back. 

When I realised that not everyone will always like me (and that's perfectly okay).

When I began to care - really care - about what happens in the wider world.

When I knew that I will never tire of travelling and exploring this wonderful world of ours. 

When I came to appreciate how lovely red wine and a muscat can be. 

On the flip side, when I discovered that champagne and cocktails (lots of them) are not a good mix. 

Following on from that, when I learnt that one is never too old to get a hangover. The difference is that it takes more time to recover from it (think days).

And following on from that, when I found that I can get through an 8.00am meeting even if the room and everyone else in it appears to be spinning...and spinning...and spinning...

When I began hosting dinner parties that didn't involve takeaway pizza, but involved fine china, cloth napkins and a cheese platter. 

When I could see quite a few not-so-fine lines around my eyes when I smiled. Call me vain, but this was a moment of truth.

When anti-ageing beauty products became a necessity, not a luxury. 

When there are times that the need for comfort far outweighs the desire for style. 

When I became such a stickler for courtesy and manners. Say "please", make an effort to thank people if they have given you a gift, hold out your hand and introduce yourself to others, call or send a message if you are going to be late and RSVP on time (that date is there for a reason)! Oh god, I think I've just turned into my mother...

When I got married to MOH (My Other Half). It was no longer just about me or just about him, it became about us and the life that we create together.

When we got a mortgage. 

When I became obsessed with homeware.

When sometimes, staying at home is a great Saturday night. 

When I started valuing quality over quantity.

When I learnt that things don't 'just happen'. If you want something, you need to be prepared to put yourself out there to achieve it and work for it. 

When I came to understand my strengths and weaknesses, and began to learn how to play to my strengths. 

When I stopped pretending to be interested in and stopped doing things because I thought I should e.g. reading "The Financial Review". I mean seriously, who was I kidding?

When I learnt that life can sometimes be tough, scary and seem unfair. But it's what you choose to do in these situations that determines the kind of person you are and the kind of life that you lead.

When I understood that there are times I need to just grit my teeth and carry on, even when all I want to do is to throw a tantrum or hide in a corner (see previous point).

When I learnt that I am much more resilient than I thought (see previous two points).

When I realised I could hold my own (see previous three points).

When I started learning the art of letting go, and really made an effort to try and stop sweating the small stuff (something I credit MOH for helping me do).

When I learnt to practice gratitude and was thankful for everyone and everything wonderful in my life, and not simply take these for granted.

When I came to see that it doesn't matter how full my life is, there is always time for family and friends. Those who say that there isn't and/or don't make the effort have screwed up priorities. 

When I could laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously. 

When I still had dreams (enter my dream of being a writer).

When I could still unashamedly dance around and sing to my favourite song at the top of my lungs because I want to and because I can.

When I realised I was lucky enough to have so many choices and had the freedom to choose.

When I was able to stop chasing the 'next thing', and have had times where I just focussed on living in the moment and being content with what I had now.

When I stopped trying to please everyone, understood my boundaries, got better at honouring myself, and learnt to say a very firm, but kind, "no".  

And because of that, when I started to value myself and learnt that living a happy life is not always about making decisions based on duty, obligation, finances, rules or expectations.

As I look back on this past year, I know that I may have aged and I may have matured but I still have a lot of learning to do. I want more from myself and more from this life. And while it would be great to morph into a Michelle Obama, when I grow up, I think I'll just settle for being a better version of myself - a better wife, family member, friend, colleague and person. That is my hope for the new year. 

Happy 2013!

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