When I was young, my mother used to use this expression, and I understood it then. Of course back then I would apply the same theory when out with friends. Some nights we couldn’t find any action or nothing seemed to be going on, so instead of moving on to another bar/club (chasing the dragon), we’d head home earlier than normal.
Now, at 42 years old, I can look back at my life and say that I’ve done everything without having overdone anything. I’ve traveled quite a bit…maybe not as much as I could have…but enough that I’ve been to more places than most people have in a lifetime. (Though I would still like to do some more traveling.) But I’ve also eaten at amazing restaurants and eaten all types of food from many different cultures and countries. I lived through those club years in the heart of NYC then survived the days when we went to bars (both trendy as well as dive bars), which certainly filled another big portion of my life.
Now I live in a city that is beautiful and prosperous with its share of restaurants, bars, clubs and family style places for lunch where I could go any day. But unless I have a “reason” to go out and party all night, I’m perfectly satisfied relaxing at home with a good book and my dog…chilling out on the couch while listening to some good music. What I enjoy now, more than anything, is good company. So if that means throwing on sweat pants to go running with a friend or an old pair of jeans to meet another friend for breakfast or lunch when we can sit at a table for 5 hours gossipping and talking about life, I’m all about that! I no longer find the need to dress up every night to go out just to suffer with exhaustion through my workday the next day.
I also love good food. (Always have and always will!) Nothing beats a night out to a restaurant with a group of friends with whom I can share a bottle of good red wine and some great food. I find no reason to be “wasted” on liquor or to stay out all night. It’s always nice to go home with the man of your life…or even alone…knowing that nothing happened that you might be ashamed of the professional side of your life from finding out about it.
I really feel as though I have already done all that (with the t-shirt to prove it) and now it’s just time to stay in good shape, healthy and content with my life at a lower moderation than how I kept it 20 years ago. Just because I’m not married with children who need me to come home to take care of them does not mean I don’t still want to come home to take care of me.
I guess in the end, that is the point of this blog…to remind myself that I no longer (and not that I ever did) have anything to prove to anyone. No one should be judging me for taking care of myself and my life the way that I do. (And not that anyone does!) Though I do still have friends at my age who are not married and are without children who do still seem to think that they have something to prove…to who, I don’t know. I wonder if it’s just that they haven’t closed the book on life in your 20’s and 30’s. Maybe they haven’t discovered hobbies that don’t include them having to get drunk every night…and no offense, but looking like it in the morning!
I’m sorry for these people. Trust me, being in your 40’s does not have to be a scary place! For me, it has been a time of great change, but also a time of great self-reflection when I have been able to really get to know myself. I feel braver and stronger than ever (both physically and emotionally) and with that strength I am able to be an inspiration to so many others, I hope. I am surrounded by a country that judges themselves and others by how many friends they have or whether or not they’re married with children by a certain age. I am so glad I never thought that way!
Everything comes to an end…even children who grow up and move out…leaving you alone as well. The only person we can really rely on is ourselves. The only place we can find happiness is within…and nothing buys it. Don’t kill yourself doing a job just for money…because in the end you will just find yourself so deeply unhappy and unsatisfied with your life. Enjoy what you do! And consider whether or not you could even do it for free. If the answer is no…then you are in the wrong profession!
Look in the mirror…and if you don’t like what you see…it’s not too late to make the changes you need to. It’s not too late to cut back on work hours so that you have that extra hour each day to get some exercise or go running…stay home to cook yourself an amazing meal! Start that book you keep putting off for a vacation. Or call that old friend of yours to catch up! Everyone always loves to hear how you’re doing and who might need their own flavor of inspiration.
Stop chasing the dragon…since after all you probably already caught it and just didn’t realize it. Enjoy your alone time…get to know yourself…decide if you have become the person you had wanted to become! And then just chill out, relax and enjoy your own company. Your friends will always be there to support whatever decision you decide to make in your life. And if not, then they were never your friends to begin with!