I’m fortunate. I’m blessed with a good life - I’m healthy and loved by my friends and family. I have a stable roof over my head, a warm blanket to sleep under, and tasty food in my fridge. While I’m incredibly thankful for each of those, I’m most grateful for the journey.
From the time we’re born until the time we pass, we’re on a forward moving journey. It’s not a path on which we can backtrack, nor can we skip ahead. We have to climb the hills and hit the potholes. How we approach this journey paints the landscape around us and influences our experiences.
Unfortunately, many of us spend too much time wishing we could be something else - younger, smarter, prettier, thinner, etc. or that we could go back and fix our past mistakes. We waste our days and limit our ability to maximize the gift we receive each day - life.
The journey is our life. It presents us with an abundance of opportunities to learn and grow, but to reap the benefits, we have to be open to receive what the journey provides.
Recently, on a blustery Saturday afternoon, I attended a football game at the college I graduated from 20 years ago. Our seats were about ten rows up from the field, and the cheerleaders were directly in front of us; I couldn’t help but notice their beauty and youth.
As I watched the cheerleaders dance and flip through the air, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little jealous. They have their entire lives ahead of them to mold into whatever they want it to be. Oh, to be that young and fresh-faced again! But, then a little voice whispered in my head - “They don’t know what you know. They haven’t had the chance to learn those lessons, yet.” With that in mind, my jealousy subsided as gratitude filled my heart.
As we celebrate birthdays or other milestones, it’s easy to feel resentful of what’s lost - youth, opportunities, love, etc. and it’s common to feel envious of those possessing those desires. If we allow ourselves to spend too long with those thoughts, we miss what’s happening on our journey.
When I think of those cheerleaders, I know their lives aren’t perfect simply because they’re young and beautiful. They have struggles, just like me. When I think back to being their age, my challenges were probably similar to some of theirs, but I overcame them years ago, and they paved the way to better equip me to handle the issues I encounter now.
This mindset allows me to respect the process of aging and the journey of life. When I look at older women, I’m in awe. What must they know that I haven’t had the chance to learn?
I’m grateful for all the twists and turns life throws my way because, with each one, I learn more about myself and my stories get richer.
I am who I am now because of the journey - not in spite of it. Every year, I welcome the additional candle on my cake because it represents another year of becoming more me. While I am continually amazed at how fast the years fly by, it has taught me to trust my instincts, believe in myself, and be open to what I don’t know.
We never stop learning. This journey allows us to be both the teacher and the student. We teach those on the path behind us, and we learn from those ahead of us - this is what makes life’s journey so beautiful.
I can’t wish to be the cuter, younger, fresher woman that’s half my age because to do so would devalue every hill I’ve climbed, every lesson I’ve learned, and every tear I’ve shed.
I can’t dread being the older, softer, slower woman because it would diminish the lessons I’ve yet to learn, the battles still to be fought and won, and the wisdom from a life of both, good and bad, experiences.
All I can do is be eternally grateful for the journey and my part in the process. Where I am right now may feel challenging, but it also feels right. There’s a turn ahead where I’ll discover a new path and a new version of me, but I can’t see it yet. I don’t know when I’ll stumble upon it, but I know it’s there because I’ve learned those turns are always ahead and I’m watching for it.
The beauty of trusting the journey is that I trust myself. I’ve stopped resisting life and instead, I’ve started embracing all the challenges and surprises life throws my way. By doing so, my roots have extended deeper into the soil, and I stand stronger and taller.
While I may be thankful for many things in my life, I will always be most grateful for the journey, because that’s where I find myself and my strength, time and time again.
Vicky Cook is a certified coach that helps high-achieving women feeling stuck to find what’s missing so they can rechart the course of their lives. She loves to write, travel, and spend time with her partner, family, and friends. She believes life isn’t meant to be endured, it’s meant to be embraced and loves encouraging other women to find their edge so they can feel alive and limit their regrets.