Day 156 – Learning to be comfortable in my own skin

When I was in my 20’s, I remember thinking I was looking forward to my 30’s because I’d feel more comfortable in my own skin. Turning 30 seemed mystical – you’re supposed to be wiser, more confident, more sure about where you are in life, and oh, let’s not forget, reaching your sexual peak.

I’ve given this 30’s thing a few years and I’ve learned a few things in the past decade. I’ll be 34 in 2 months. Here are some bits and pieces of reflection.

It gets easier – sort of

I’ve learned to accept a lot of things that I struggled with all of my life. My flat nose, 8 inch scar from a burn, my shyness, my mom, family, and friends. I’ve learned to accept that this is me, right here, as I am with room for growth.

I’ll never be popular, will never run for office or win any popularity contests. But I am taking tiny steps to break out of my comfort zone. For example, I took an Improv class last year. (That was hard and scary.) I’m also enrolling in some other programs next year. I also started this blog, which is my way of reaching out and connecting.

According to the author of The Happiness Hypothesis, people have a baseline of happiness. So, you are born at a certain happiness level and while it’s possible to deviate away from it for short periods of time, you can’t really change it permanently. I think that becomes more of a fact as you get older. I don’t mean this to sound like a downer. But I have wondered if the simple act of acceptance and embracing it rather than fighting it can make you happier.

You are no longer young

I was always young(er) then my peers. I skipped fourth grade, started college at 17, started law school at 21, started practicing at 24, you get the idea. It never occurred to me that one day, I will no longer be young.

I knew somewhere in my brain that I’d one day have full head of grey hair, suffer from all the other physical and mental ailments of being “old” but I never really considered the process of aging. For example, I didn’t anticipate my hair going grey one strand at a time. Or something that used to come so easy not being as easy anymore. I wasn’t prepared to reach the peak and spiral slowly downwards. I thought there would be a warning – or at least a memo.

Learning to say “no” gracefully

This one doesn’t have much to do with aging as it does with experience. As a solo lawyer, I’ve had to learn the art of saying “no.” I’ve learned that I can’t do it all (or I can try and go insane). I’ve learned that just because I can doesn’t mean I should. Sometimes, it’s better to have an expert do what s/he’s good at.

I’ve also learned when it comes to clients, I have to be the one to set boundaries and value my time, my efforts and learn to say “no.” I also learned that I can’t help everyone and I can’t take on the problems of my clients. It can be very discouraging at times because I totally want to fix it all. Especially when it comes to curing injustice.

In practicing law with my husband, I’ve found that I regularly accepted work for less money than him because I wasn’t valuing my work and my services. Lots of studies show that women are paid less than their male counterparts and are much less likely to negotiate money. I’ve learned that I have to be the one to value my time and the services I provide first and foremost because if I don’t, no one else will. I’ve also learned to stand my ground and say “no” because it’s better to not work and not get paid than to work and not get enough.

 

You can buy a copy of The Happiness Hypothesis from Amazon. 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lesley Hoenig October 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm

You’re still young at 34, I still get people telling me I seem young for a lawyer, and I”m 34!

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Jeena Cho October 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

It’s a good thing we’re in a profession that values age and experience. 🙂 I agree. 30-something is still way young for a lawyer. Good thing we didn’t become models – eh?

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Ashish negi February 29, 2012 at 8:35 am

Well said

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