Happy Birthday to Me (Who were you? Who are you? Who will you be?)

Ok, so that title could totally be a Dr. Suess poem about mid-life. I'd write it, but I'm not a poet. Not even close. 

This week is my birth week. (Happy Birthday to me!) I'm pleased to say that I've lived another adventurous year on this Earth. I'm older than I ever imagined I could possibly be when I was a young kid. I'm 42! So young yet so old. 

Mid-life is a funny time. You have lived enough life to have some perspective of how much time has passed and also how little time is left. You've had friends and family members come and go. It’s a time to evaluate the choices you’ve made and really take a long look at where you're headed.

My mid life journey is pretty typical. I did some cool stuff when I was young. I got married. I had babies. I stopped doing a lot of stuff outside of raising babies and working. Then upon hitting the ripe old age of 40, I decided I needed to fit some things in that I hadn’t gotten to before I run out of time. Pretty typical.

I haven’t bought a convertible or gotten a tattoo (yet!) I haven't run off up the coast or dyed my hair purple... I’ve simply decided that as of right now, I’m ok with fully being who I am. I stopped stopping myself from all the things I truly find valuable.

So the title above poses 3 questions. I've been thinking a lot about these three things this past year, so here goes...

1. Who was I?

The video attached above is of my favorite performance that I ever did as a young, less-than-confident theater major. It’s a glimpse into my artistry at the time. It speaks so much to who I was in my early 20’s. Deep and angsty and also deeply afraid. I wanted to be bold but I didn't really know how. I didn't really have the support system or willpower to get out into the world. I was a little bitter and a little dark, but in a cute, non threatening way... easy to ignore, and one of a million, gazillion little blond things in an overcrowded world. I chose the William Bolcom piece "Oh Close the Curtain" for my senior cabaret performance in an attempt to break out of the "Julie Andrews" goodness that I was being cast into so much of the time. I’m so glad now to have a record of this moment in time! Looking back now as a middle-aged woman, I can see that this piece represents so much of what I was capable of and everything I was afraid of. I can’t believe now that I doubted myself so much! I had so much to offer the world, but I felt so small and I stood in my own way so much of the time. 

That’s pretty typical right? Hindsight is 20/20. We look back on our younger, more energetic, thinner, less wrinkled selves and we are so much kinder than we were back then. NOW I appreciate my artistry. NOW I appreciate my choices. NOW I see the beautiful, young girl so full of potential and self-doubt. 

2. Who am I now? 

Today I am older and (hopefully) wiser. I've got some years under my belt and some perspective. I know more about who I am, what makes me tick and why that young woman didn't/couldn't succeed at the things she thought she wanted to do. I’ve had accomplishments. I've had kids and I've grown in ways I could never have anticipated. I look at that young person now and I wish I could tell her that everything turns out ok. I’d tell her to worry less and take a few more risks. I’d also tell her about her beautiful kids and her fantastic husband and about the things she’ll get to create someday. 

Today I’m a mom and an artist and a strong woman who has a much better sense of her worth. It would be really easy for the me of now to look back on the me of 20 years ago with regret, but honestly, the fun thing for me to think about now is that the young, frightened me of 20 years ago created the me of today.  And there is still so much life left to live! I guess if I could really say anything to who I was, I’d mostly say thanks. Thanks for making lots of mistakes and hard choices. Thanks for having integrity. Thanks for getting me to where I am today. 

3. Who will I be?

I don’t know yet! I do know that the me of today gets to create her. I know that the me of the future will look back at this mid-life me and think how beautiful and young and strong she was. She'll see how hard mid-life me worked and how needlessly hard she still was on herself sometimes. I think she’d tell the me of right now to relax, create, spread the love around and just do without quite so much worry. 

So on this contemplative week of my birth, my take away is this:

Love my family.

Make the art.

Make the music.

Dance the dances.

Reach out to the important people.

Tell everyone that touches my life what I appreciate about them every time I have a chance.

Be me. 

Live a life I'll look back on with joy.

 

So take a minute and ask yourself:  

Who were you? Who are you? Who do you want to be? What would you tell the younger you? What does the older you want the you of today to know? Take some time and figure it out. 

Then get out there and live it.

You'll thank yourself someday.

 

© 2018 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.