Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#38 Birthday Babble

I've recently been emailing back and forth with a cousin I haven't seen nor spoken to in a very long time. She emailed me a recent photo, and upon viewing it, I thought she looked exactly the same as the kid I remembered [photo circa 1980]. When I told her so, she wrote back that maybe she looked the same, but that she was very different from the little cousin I remember. That got me thinking. I'm turning 47 this month, actually in a few days, and I've been doing a lot of "life reviewing" and looking at how I've changed over the years -- not just the chronological physical aging, but the self assurance and confidence that comes with time going by.

Back in my early 20s, I worked in the Emergency Room. During one typical shift, I was with a team of doctors and nurses taking care of a woman who was having a very difficult time breathing. We had an oxygen mask on her while the team was busy getting an EKG, starting an IV, drawing blood, and so on. We were all working very quickly and quietly and all one could hear, besides the beeping of the monitors, was the patient saying, "oh my god", and "I can't breathe", and "help me, help me I can't get my breath". After about a minute of listening to this, I looked up from drawing her blood and said very plainly, "if you'd stop talking you'd be able to breath better". She stopped talking and of course was able to catch her breath and breathe just a little easier. I remember thinking to myself, why didn't anyone else speak up? I, the youngest and newest one there, was the one who said it. After the patient went upstairs, the attending physician came up to me and said, "good job calming that patient". Speaking my mind is something that I have always been able to do, and because of this [and maybe because of my sometimes gruff NY twang], people have always assumed that I am a confident person. Truthfully though, it's just that I am a truthful person. After telling the patient to stop talking, I questioned myself for days wondering if it had been the right thing to do, even though the doctor had commended me. The confidence didn't come to root until my 40s. I might have said what was on my mind in my earlier years, but I was never sure of myself after speaking. How do I know this? Because if someone questioned me, I would almost always doubt myself - even if I knew I was 100% correct. Now, in the latter part of my 4th decade, I can say with confidence, that when I say something, it's with confidence.

I'm the middle child. I have an older sister and younger brother, both whom I adore. I don't think we were your typical siblings growing up [we hardly ever fought] nor was I the typical middle child, except maybe for one characteristic. Middle children [it seems] are the peacemakers. I'm not so sure this was so much a part of my personality as a kid [although I hated to see anyone bullied], but as a young adult, I didn't like to see things out of sorts and so I would try to make "it all better". Over the years, peacemaker, for me, has morphed into the "giver inner" and the "lets not make waves" and the "don't hurt anyone's feelings" person. I've thought about this recently as it relates to my "food issues" and I think a lot of my EATING was due to resentment [can you relate?]. Because I didn't get what I wanted and didn't have the confidence to say what I wanted, I shoved down my feelings with food. Of course, I only had me to blame, but back then, I didn't understand me. I didn't have 40 some odd years of experience and wisdom behind me. Today, what I can easily see and readily admit about myself is that I don't really have strong opinions about a lot of things. Now when I "give in", it's because I'm not inclined either way. Don't get me wrong, I have preferences and I will speak up if I feel strongly enough, but now in my 40s I realize that if and when I really want something -- say Indian and not Chinese food -- I'll say it out loud, without fear of rocking the boat, and with the confidence of someone who knows what she wants.

And last, for this babble could go on and on, I have learned that I'm a good writer. I say this with confidence. Not because many people have told me so, but because many people have told me that I wrote how they felt, that I wrote what they couldn't say, that they were laughing so hard at the visuals, etc. I'm tempted to qualify "what a good writer is" so that I don't sound like I'm bragging, but that's the difference between being in my 40s and what I would have done in my 20s and 30s. Now, I can graciously accept a compliment without feeling undeserving. My parents [look left] told me that I could do anything I set my mind to... even though I was never really convinced. Now in my 40s, I think, why not?

And so, I'm curious. I'd like to hear from you, the reader, about changes that were obvious enough for you to realize that you had grown/matured/expanded as a person. Share by commenting on my blog [you can show your name or go anonymous] or send me an email.

Quote of the Day: Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product ~Eleanor Roosevelt

1 comment:

Lynn Haraldson-Bering said...

You ARE a good writer. You DO often say things I'd not thought to look inside myself to see if they are true for me as well. I, too, am a middle child in my mid-40s and am more confident today than ever.

Happy birthday, Bobbie. May you continue to grow in wisdom and self-assurance :)