I chuckle sometimes when I remember the manic behaviors I had as a younger woman. There was such a need to maintain the image of perfection that I was always in a state of anxiety. It takes a lot of energy to try being liked and adored by the billions of people in the world. Midlife gave me the confidence and moxie to venture out on my terms. It allowed me to care more about what I wanted rather than what I thought others wanted. With that came a freedom that was liberating and empowering.
Here are five things I've given myself permission to do in midlife that have enriched each day, allowing me to live more fully:
1. Leave the house with no makeup.
This was huge for me! I used to feel the need for a fully made-up face before my feet touched the front porch. Now, I realize that I'm hot with or without it.
2. Indulge in naps without the guilt.
I used to feel guilty for taking any time away from "stuff" that needed my attention. Now, I feel entitled to snooze when my body needs it.
3. Go to the movies—solo.
The thought of stepping out solo before midlife made me feel like the last kid chosen in gym class: embarrassed. Now, I delight in the absence of commentary and chit-chat during the presentations. I take my movies seriously and really enjoy going it alone, guilt-free.
4. Take the scenic route.
I used to have major anxiety about the traffic, distance, speed limit, and whether I had enough gas to make it to my destination. With the introduction to books on tape, though, I have a newfound love for a long car ride. As the story unfolds, I delight in having the time to hear as much of it as I possibly can.
5. Schedule (and honor!) dates with yourself.
I remember running from sunup to sundown making sure that my clan was on time for their events, had three meals daily, did homework, and wrote timely thank you cards. Now, I schedule things that I want to do into my week. I delight in choosing my own activities and schedule.
Being middle-aged has given me a new take on living! I enjoy days filled with exploration and self-care, and if this sounds good it can be the same for you. Just give yourself permission—it's the first step—and be sure to honor the new rituals you put into place. It's through these news practices that you'll rebuild your confidence and your relationship with yourself.