A letter to myself at 37 — a self analysis by stepping outside of myself (+ tips on how to do this)

Dear Sara,

You turned 37 today. You see 40 looming and you are scared. It feels like time is running out. You had (have) such big dreams and it seems like they are eluding you. You are tossed between feeling dissatisfied with life, to feeling ungrateful for all the good in your life. Life is so full and yet so empty. So, what can you do about this?

Shine your light and fear less

Sara, stop hiding your light. You fear no one will notice and yet you fear judgement. What a conundrum. Because the world is overloaded with content you dodge creating more. But you love writing. You don’t have to have it all figured out to make a start.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” — Joseph Campbell

You worry about content, word counts, time limits, fonts, visuals and technical ability. These worries and fears are stopping you from taking action. And it is action that will teach you what you need to know. You will win and fail. Both will hold valuable lessons. The faster you act, the faster you will learn, and the faster you will succeed.

Be thankful — thank and you will be full

Sara, give thanks for the love that encircles you. You often think you are lonely, but you have more quality friendships than you realise. You have a husband that loves you deeply and a son that calls for you. You have family. It is big and scattered, but you have special family members who always have your back. You have in-laws that you actually get on with. This can be quite a rare thing.

“Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more.” – Roy T. Bennett

Value what you have achieved. You may not be where you want to be, but you sure are a long way off from where you started. Appreciate your body and your mind. You are healthy. So is your family (mostly).

Look at the word ‘thankful’. ‘Thank-ful’. Maybe, if you thank, you will be full.

Let people be

Sara, what other people say, do and believe, is absolutely beyond your control. What you do have control over is how you respond.

“The older I get, the more I believe that the greatest kindness is acceptance.” ― Christina Baker Kline

It will help if you stop expecting people to treat you a certain way. Accept people for where they are on their journey. This can be very difficult to do with people you love, but you will be less disappointed and more able to celebrate the good in them.

Reach the finish line

Sara, you are now aware that you tend not to finish things. This awareness will serve you well.

Count your unfinished projects, books, notebooks — eek! This decade long writing project that hasn’t got off the ground. The 3 year old unfinished e-book course. The fab at 30 project. Fab at 37 hasn’t got the same ring to it, has it? You love ‘shiny new things’. But the art is in the application, the doing, the completing.

“To get to your finish line, you’ll have to try lots of different paths.” ― Amby Burfoot

There are two types of finish lines. 1. Completing the things that are important. 2. Knowing what and when to finish and leave something behind. Deciphering what is important and what you must leave behind is your biggest challenge right now. You do not have the answers yet. Let yourself sit with the fear, turmoil and unknown. The answers will come. You will come through a significantly better version of yourself. Keep trying until you find the right path for you.

Believe in making it through

Every day that you experience is another set of achievements and lessons. Minutes. Hours. Days. In time you will find that you have made it through the things that seemed impossible.

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. “ ― Stephen King, The Stand

Somehow, at a place beyond all the gargantuan effort you put in, beyond the overthinking, the crippling fear and debate you have with yourself and others, somehow beyond all that, you will make it through.

Self analysis tips

When I started writing this analysis about myself, I started to feel sorry for myself. That is not what I wanted to achieve. Rather I wanted the outcome to be more like wise words from a teacher, guide or friend.

By stepping outside of myself I was no longer speaking in the first person, like I am now. It felt like I was guiding someone else rather than myself, which is a lot easier to do! By taking a ‘birds eye view’ of myself or being a ‘fly on the wall' of my current state of mind, I was able to be less emotional and significantly more matter of fact.

The experience is like decanting the wild waves of the stormy sea into a neat row of glass bottles. The water is exactly the same. The presentation is completely different. It is calm and more ordered so you can process the contents more easily.

In my silly busy world of juggling toddler, relationship, health, work and home (with its never ending need to be tidied and piles of laundry), there is no time for uninterrupted self reflection. So my thoughts, self talk and inner knowing are like the wild waves of the stormy sea. I bet you can relate! This ‘external’ self analysis helped me unravel, untangle and present the wisdom floating around my head in a way that I can process and revisit again and again.

Key steps

  1. I did this on my laptop. Yup. I think you can do this freehand or whatever technology you desire ― see what works for you.

  2. Write as if you are writing to someone you love and care for deeply.

  3. Write about how this person you love (you) feels right now. This is like setup statement, something that frames the important issues for you right now.

  4. It may help to ask yourself a question. I asked, “What can you do about this?” But it can be any question that is relevant to you.

  5. Don’t feel the need to stop your train of thought or edit what is pouring out of you ― presentation can come later (if needed).

  6. If lots of thoughts are coming at you, just write the keywords down, then come back to them. If they are needed you will easily be able to expand. If you find they fade, let them fade.

  7. You’ll probably feel silly at some point. I felt like the whole thing was pointless and a waste of time, intermittently, throughout the exercise. But having persisted, I have found the direction soothing, calming and powerfully on point.

If you try this, let me know how you get on! Or just share whatever you get out of this (now very public) self analysis. Simply comment or get in touch sara[@]somethingbeckons.co.uk Thank you!