My birthday is tomorrow. I will be turning 46, but most days I don’t feel that old. 46 is verging on late 40’s – people in their late 40’s are experienced, knowledgeable, wise. I don’t see how I fit into that description.
Yes, I have been teaching for almost 25 years, so I am experienced at my job. But I have led a fairly sheltered – some might say boring – life. I feel very inexperienced at dealing with complex life issues because I have not often faced them. I guess I am grateful for the lack of crises in my life, but when difficult situations do come along, or when a friend or student needs advice, I feel pretty ill-equipped to help.
Yes, I have 2 degrees (a BA and a Masters), but I don’t feel particularly knowledgeable about anything beyond the high school math courses that I teach. I got by in college, but was not what you might call a scholar. Even now, I would rather watch a re-run on TV than follow world news or even read the local paper. I do scan the headlines of Yahoo news, but I’m not sure that would qualify me as knowledgeable!
And don’t even get me started on how wise fails to describe me. I am the one who turns to everyone else for advice because I usually don’t trust my own judgement. For me, being wise means knowing how to make decisions on your own, how to cope with problems you have never faced before, and how to handle situations with compassion and fairness. I try, but I am not always successful at these kinds of things.
I know that some of my friends, if and when they read this post, will try to argue with me about my view of myself. To them, I say that I put on a good front, but inside, I definitely feel like I haven’t accomplished all that I thought I would have by now. I certainly don’t feel my age inside my head (although I definitely feel it in my joints).
So, tomorrow, I will wake up, receive birthday wishes from friends and family, and go about my life. But all day, I will be wondering where the last 20 years went and what was I doing instead of becoming experienced, knowledgeable and wise. Maybe that will happen in the next 20 years… We’ll see!