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  • Writer's pictureJodi

Midlife: The Best-Kept Secret

Updated: Oct 12, 2022


I used to think survival meant strength. Today, I truly understand that survival is merely the act of existing. And by 'existing' I mean a state in which you are literally trying to keep your head above water and you think that is the way it's supposed to be. As in normal. Don’t get me wrong, everyone who’s alive and breathing needs to ‘survive’ to get to the next level in life. But don’t you want to be in a place where you are not just scraping, begging, and wishing that “this life” was not your life? Here is my story.


Survival 101 – Texas-style


Let’s rewind a few decades to my teenage years. My vision of where I wanted to be was, well, never where I currently found myself. I perpetually thought it was ‘too late’ to accomplish anything at any given age ... too late to be a gymnast, too late to be an attorney, too late to own the buildings I drove by, too late to make a difference. Funny how that theme would follow me throughout the years.


Looking back at my childhood, I now recognize I was in survival mode. At the time, I thought my life was ‘normal’ – the constant dialogue and reminders that I was falling short. The societal and family pressures of how I ‘should’ be and what I ‘should’ do were always present in my mind. Let’s not forget the expectation to be pretty, seemingly wealthy and part of a prestigious college sorority. My negative self-talk perpetuated my feelings that I was not good enough – a feeling that stayed with me for years. The truth is, I was doing all I could at that time – academically, physically, and spiritually – but I felt it was not enough. I’ve often reflected on what fueled my drive to be perfect. In retrospect – hindsight always seems so clear, doesn't it – I think it was combination of family dynamics, environment, and expectations from the area in which I was raised. Whatever the reason, as a teenager and young adult, I vividly remember telling myself I would do things differently.


Illusions of Grandeur: My Picture-Perfect Life


The pressure I felt to be perfect was engrained in my head. Looking back, that pressure probably led to my ‘Goth’ phase in college – and subsequent pregnancy at 19. I ended up dropping out of school to raise my daughter and working in retail to support myself.


Throughout my 20s, I also felt an underlying pressure to get married as soon as possible because I was behind. When I finally did get married in my mid-20s, I was determined that I would not repeat the cycle of my parents (six marriages between them). Like many young women, I made choices that were based on all kinds of ‘expectations’ – it’s time to get married, it’s time to start a family – rather than what I wanted or needed.


After 14 years of marriage, the proverbial dam broke. I was facing divorce and the sudden death of my mother – all in the span of two months. The timing was awful. Like most people, mine was not a fairy tale marriage by any stretch of the imagination (whose is?), but I had been determined to stick it out no matter what. Even though I was not getting what I wanted or needed. In retrospect, the chaos and self-doubt that had defined my life to that point started to lift as I began to take control of my life.


The Road to My Truth


In retrospect, those post-divorce days were hard times. I’m not going to lie. To say it was a difficult time raising two young children and a teenager alone is an understatement. And working three part-time jobs to make ends meet. Just to give you a visual: I was washing laundry in my tub and driving in the Texas heat without A/C. I was wearing one contact lens .


But you know what else I did? I realized that I could make my own choices – it wasn’t too late after all. I finished my undergraduate degree and landed in a high-level position in a Fortune 500 company (that’s a story for another day). My life to this point holds many memories – good and bad – but my journey now is truly my own.






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