While I may not know what I'm doing most of the time, or even what I want to do, there's one great thing that comes along with being midlife: knowing who I am.
I'll admit though, I've been blessed with a humble (I hope) confidence throughout most of my life. I guess in elementary school I was very timid--constantly afraid of teachers and getting in trouble (I think it's a Catholic school thing, even if there weren't nuns there anymore)--but when my family moved from Baltimore City to Harford County just in time for middle school, I felt a huge relief in getting to start over in a new school and really let myself be "me."
Middle school can be a terrible set of years, because pre-teens to early teens seem to really rip into each other during these years. I've always had an anti-popular streak in me. The popular people seemed so fake and more two-faced, so when I got to my rural middle school, I built a group of friends from scratch. I guess you could say we were the unpopular smart kids. Most of us were in band. Some of us were in girl scouts, including me, and I wasn't ashamed of it. I stuck with girl scouts through graduation, even though I was the lone senior, because I saw myself as an important mentor to the younger girls. But back to middle school me.
So coming into a new school with no reputation or exectations of me, I got to be myself. I was ridiculously silly, a good writer, I stood up for underdogs, spoke my mind, played clarinet in band and chose the archery option as often as possible in gym class even though it was seen as the dorkiest option--simply because it meant I didn't have to throw, catch, or run from any balls.
High school was kind of turbulent, with groups of friends shifting as our interests and alliances changed. I definitely grew more as a person during these years, but I never worried about fitting in or trying to please other people. I'll admit I was guilty of quietly standing by to things I'd say weren't my cup of tea, but I remained true to myself.
College can be another time of immense growth for young adults, but I don't really think I've changed much from senior year of high school, when I had mellowed out, was already focused on my career choice as a journalist and was ready to go to college, get that over with and go on with life. I was ready for The Real World, and I don't mean the MTV show.
I've long taken my strong sense of self for granted, but being around people 25 and under reminds me of how blessed I am! I don't know what advice to give those that are less blessed with confidence, all I can thing to say is that life will be much easier if you accept who you are and be that person rather than trying to figure out who other people want you to be. Plus I think you'll always be disappointed in yourself if you aren't really BEING yourself.
Knowing who I am might mean I stick out in certain groups or social situations, and some people might think I'm rude, but the truth is, I'm just not trying to impress you. You'll either get me or you won't, and even if you don't get me, you'll probably be abe to live with me pretty easily.
I wish other people would stop trying to impress me too. I'm not buying it. Just be your SELF.