1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? (Answered Jan. 7, 2010)
Hrm. If I woke up one day and truly didn’t know my age and had to figure it out, I would probably go into Erin-mode and start making lists (of course!). ;) The most efficient and likely-accurate approach would be to compare certain characteristics of myself to those around me in certain age groups and decide based on where I fit in the scale. There are several characteristics to look at — physical, life stage, emotional, etc.
Physical characteristics would be the easiest. Appearance-wise, I’ve been told I look anywhere from 18 to 28. The way I carry myself, dress, and speak seem to have an effect on this; when dressed in business attire or dressy clothing with my makeup and hair ‘done’ I’ve passed for 28, when dressed down in jeans and flips with a ponytail, I’ve actually been carded to buy a ticket for an R movie. If I inspected myself further, the stretch marks and tummy pouch would give away that I’m of child-bearing age, and the wrinkles on my forehead and pick-marks on my fingers would show I’ve been through some stress. Health-wise, I’d probably feel a bit older. Headaches, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and insomnia definitely make me feel aged, and some of the burdens I carry in daily life aren’t seen by people twice my age. Averaging these, I’d say late-20’s would be a good guess.
Looking deeper at the current life situation, I’d start to second-guess myself. Why? I’m a widow. Right there I would immediately think I must be much older than my 20’s. 60’s or beyond sound like a much more appropriate age group for a widow to belong to. Dead husbands, life insurance, tombstones, and Social Security aren’t very common topics amongst the 20’s crowd. But if I looked at my gorgeous toddler, I’d know that I couldn’t possibly be in my 60’s. I must be somewhere in the early parenting years, middle-aged. I’m a homeowner, I have a Bachelor’s Degree, I’ve had a successful career and ‘retired’ from it, I have a solid financial plan, I’m cultured and traveled, and I’m a few steps along on the ‘life plan’; so I must be toward the middle of the ‘middle-ages’. So looking at these, I’d adjust the late-20’s to something more like late-30’s.
From here, there would be one last major consideration — emotional state. How do I feel about life? What do I think about on a regular basis? What are my concerns, my hopes, my fears? What do I feel like I’ve gotten out of life, and what do I feel like I haven’t accomplished yet? These things could really help me fine-tune what my true age is. And this is the part I’m struggling with answering.
Emotionally, I am a mess bouncing back and forth from one thing to another, unstable and unpredictable in mood and outlook. In many ways, I’d determine that I must actually be a child, grade-school or middle-school aged perhaps. These days I can often be afraid, timid, self-conscious, and awkward. I don’t know myself or who I am anymore, and often feel like the angsty wallflower trying to come-of-age again. But there are moments where the previously confident, motivated, self-assured, strong yet gentle woman I used to be peeks through. And there also times I’d think I must be of an elderly age, or in my second or third lifetime even. I am exhausted, in all ways possible. I can be jaded, cynical, wise, guarded, giving, insightful, negative…and many other traits that someone who has been through their fair share of hardship and life experience could possibly hold. So, this would really throw me for a loop. Do I adjust younger than my guess of late-30’s, or older?
Yes, I know that even with all of this babbling, I still haven’t answered the question. My age? I have no clue. And I don’t think it really matters what number I give it. What’s more important is how old your heart is – what it holds and what it gives – and for me, that is constantly changing. Yesterday I may have felt 35. Today I might be 15. Tomorrow I might be an infant, and the next day I might be dead. But I’m alive, I’m fortunate enough to have an age to consider, and I’ll embrace the rollercoaster until one day I can answer this question with confidence.
2. Which is worse, failing or never trying? (Answered Jan. 12, 2010)
If you’d asked me this question 5 years ago, I’d have said failing is way worse. Hell, I’d have probably had a bit of that lingering in my answer even just a year ago. I struggled with the fear of failure and the need for perfection for many, many years. Whether intentional or not, I was raised with a lot of pressure to be ‘perfect’ and ‘right.’ I was not allowed to have my own opinions about things; if I did, they were ‘wrong’ or something I should be ashamed of. There was a certain mold that I was expected to fill, and anything that veered too far off course was met with a lot of guilt and shame. As a result of these pressures during the influential childhood/teenage years, I developed a personality trait that has taken me years to overcome and slowly reform. For so long, I felt like I needed to perfect and the best at anything I did (and I needed to do everything), in order to win the love of others. Failing equaled not being perfect, which equaled not being liked or loved because I wasn’t ‘right.’
But now, I can answer with complete absolution that never trying is worse than failing. The constant and complete acceptance, love, and support of my husband helped to slowly calm that fear over the course of nearly a decade, and his sudden death shook the last bit of lingering perfectionism right out of me. Life is too short to worry about being perfect, and I have learned that it is alright to fail; in fact, it is *good*. If you never try something, you will never know what could have been. You leave an area of life, of yourself, unexplored and unknown. And if you never fail at something, you will never improve or discover your highest potential.
So, never trying something is way worse failing. I refuse to leave any desire or interest unexplored. So what if I fail? There are much worse things in the world; I know, I’m living one of them. And while I’m still lucky enough to be living, I’ll never let the fear of failure keep me from trying things again.
3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do? (Answered March 15, 2012)
Pressure. That is my first instinct answer. Honestly, we are so subjected to pressures, internal and external, on a daily basis that unless you are very strong-willed, it is easy to fall prey to the idea of what you *should* be doing. Whether we realize it or not, we often put our desires aside in order to fulfill the preconcieved idea of where we *should* be, what we should act like, what we should spend our time doing.
And of course there are the considerations of daily necessities. Our daily schedules and commitments, in the rat-race pace of modern life, tend to decide for us what we will do with ourselves. We’re too busy working and paying our bills and fulfilling our to-do lists to truly contemplate what we’d rather be doing. And even if we did contemplate it, where would we find the time to do it?
Sadly, it tends to take a tragic, life-altering event to change our perspectives and force us to reevaluate what is important in our lives. And even then, we may not be able to fit in everything we’d rather do around the things we have to do. I guess the key is balance.
4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? (Answered March 15, 2012)
That’s quite possible, actually. I’m a writer after all. I live and breathe words, whether I write them down or not. It’s my way of expressing myself, learning who I am, sharing myself with others, and, in many cases, *doing* something. So I guess, in a way, even if I’ve said more than I’ve done, I’ve still done quite a bit by saying *something*.
5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world? (Answered March 15, 2012)
This is a very simple but powerful answer: the general populations’ mode of treating others. If everyone would really follow the Golden Rule of treating others as they’d like to be treated, SO many problems would solve themselves.