Turning 40 has been funny.  As I enter this new and unknown stage of life, I’m finding there’s a whole wealth of wisdom that inevitably comes with it. I knew my forties would bring forth new insights and introspection, yet there is some wisdom that’s not entirely welcomed. Although they may be honest, some lessons are simply hard. Throughout my life thus far, I’ve traveled the world.  I’ve traveled the country.  I’ve lived in many places. Different cities. Different states. Followed different paths. I’ve collected a vast history of meaningful experiences that have provided great education. However, one of the greatest lessons of all has been in transitioning into this new phase of life, as it has moved me to truly evaluate what I have. And that which I do not.

Earlier this year, I decided to do an experiment. Here is what I did: I set a great many relationships free. I stopped extending the invites. I stopped always being the initiator. I simply took my foot off the gas just to see what would happen. Would my relationships change?  Would there be some underlying balance that would surface and carry these relationships on into that proverbial sunset?  I let them go, and wondered if that age old adage would ring true- If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is yours.  If it doesn’t, it never was.  Unfortunately, what I learned is that the reality of that old adage is not as light and whimsical as it’s words are.

Admittedly, I have fallen down that rabbit hole of self-blame and criticism from time to time. Who hasn’t? But regardless, the fact still remains- when I stopped pursuing them, a great majority of my relationships simply withered away.  BUT, it is not all woeful wisdom.  I have learned who really is in my corner. Yes, there is a silver lining. I’ve learned, and in many cases quite surprisingly, who really is interested in preserving a relationship. And I cherish those precious friends.  As with anything, there are, of course, many factors at play.  I am a transplant in a city that does not willingly open its branches to those who don’t share its roots. But there are so many other factors and ranking at the top of that list, despite life experience, is plain old youth and naïveté. This brings forth an unfortunate truth and, thankfully, the valuable lessons that always accompany the truth.

It has been a difficult learning curve, but I am confident that what lies on the other side of that curve will bring depth and authenticity to my life. And I share these lessons here – to set an example of mid-life growth, grabbing on to what you have, and letting go of what was never really yours to begin with.