It’s the middle of January.
First month of a brand-spanking-new year.
Resolutions have been made—and, if you’re anything like me—some of them have been broken.
Yes. I know. Already.
You may be disappointed with yourself. Frustrated. Maybe even a bit—or a lot—angry. But before your disappointment/frustration/anger unleashes a trickle or avalanche of mean self-talk (that BTW, you would never even consider saying to anyone else you love), take a moment. A deep breath. And consider this: Maybe breaking resolution(s) is a form of healthy resistance. Maybe you don’t need to be anything other than who you are right now.
Let that sink in.
I’m So Glad I Chose the Word “Rediscovering” and Not “Reinventing.
I saw an article recently in The Atlantic that really irked me. (The Atlantic is one of the few subscriptions I’ve kept this year. I’ve dumped many others—I’ll save those reasons for another post.) The irksome article was titled “What to Read If You Want to Reinvent Yourself.”
As someone who’s always looking for the next best read, you’d think I would have loved–yet another–book list.
But something about that title—and several of the books on the list—rubbed me the wrong way. And it took me a bit of time to fully understand why.
It’s been a little over 4 years since I started writing the WomanPause blog. At the start, I knew I wanted to write for women who like me … either because of empty nest, retirement, a loss … were starting on a new journey, or entertaining the idea, and who were somewhere around 50 years old or older. I loved the name WomanPause for the blog, but I needed a tagline. What would it be? I came up with this: amplifying the voices of women over 50 rediscovering ourselves.
I’m so glad I chose the word “rediscovering” and not “reinventing,” as in the Atlantic title.
Okay. You may be saying “rediscover” “reinvent”—is there really such a big difference?
My answer: Yes!
The Idea of Re-inventing Ourselves Feels Dismissive of Our Essence
Here’s the dictionary.com definition of discover: to see, get knowledge of, learn of, find, or find out; gain sight or knowledge of
Here’s the definition of invent: to originate or create as a product of one’s own ingenuity, experimentation, or contrivance
I have nothing against invention! “Ingenuity” and “experimentation” are both wonderful, too. So, of course, is “creation.” I recommend all! But … when it comes to our very selves, I pause. We have already been created! The idea of re-inventing ourselves–and much that goes along with it–feels dismissive of our essence. As if at our very core we are defective, that we, ourselves, need to be replaced with newer, better iterations—or inventions. I’m sorry, but I just can’t—and won’t–ride that train!
But Re-discovery! That’s a different animal.
Over time—and 50+ years is a lot of time—we have, unfortunately, covered up some–or much–of who we truly are. Maybe we were given the message that some part(s) of us were unacceptable, unattractive, too difficult, too loud, too silly, too ________ (you fill in your own blank). Maybe we squashed parts of ourselves in order to fit in and belong. Maybe we made ourselves smaller to accommodate others’ insecurities. Maybe, as Marianne Williamson famously said, we were afraid of our own light!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
“To Be in Our Full Light, Maybe We Need to Accept the Parts of Us We Want to Change”
Take a look at your resolutions. Ask yourself if they, too, are based on the underlying assumption that you are not okay as you are—that you need to get rid of, or squash, parts of you—or even that you need to make a total overhaul and “reinvent” yourself.
To be in our full light, maybe we need to accept the parts of us we want to change. Maybe … may I dare say … we need to love the things about us that we want to change.
How much do you LOVE that?!? How wonderful if, before we jumped onto the “new and improved self” bandwagon, we took some time to honor and celebrate our old selves.
I humbly suggest that we be more loving in our resolutions. Maybe our only resolution should be to bring out the shovel. For whatever reasons we have buried parts of our precious selves, now is a wonderful time to dig. And to dust off those long-silenced dreams, to bring them out to the light.
Let’s all resolve to rediscover.
P.S. Here’s a wonderful short read by Eden Robins published in Slate that brought me tremendous joy! It’ll take all of five minutes—you won’t be sorry! (I first saw this on Jami Attenberg’s Craft Talk substack!)
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please write a comment or send me an email.
See you soon!