Today is 43 years since I arrived in this world and for some reason I feel old. Not in the negative sense that life is passing me by and my life soon is over, quite the opposite. I feel old in the sense that I have done mistakes and that has given me experience and for some reason people start to look to me for advice in life.
In years I am not very old. 43 is hardly a number defined as being old and I have a long way to travel before my natural life span is over. I have done a lot in my 43 years however and unlike many people that by that age are experts in their fields with 20+ years experience, I still consider myself a student of life.
I have tested myself in many ways and I have been close to the flickering lights of the other side a few times already. I have been reckless and paid for it in pain and bodily harm. I have fought injustice, real and imaginary to the cost of my job. I have been foolish and narrow minded and I have made many, many mistakes. These are scars I carry on my body and in my heart. Reminders of lessons learned.
I decided a long time ago that the only way to become a better person is to understand the world around me better. I decided that I can live my life with fear in my heart or let it go to make room for something else. I decided that instead of frown at things that was different I should be curious and learn as much as I could about it. For a year after my brothers death I said yes to everything, regardless of how much it scared me. This experience had a huge impact on my life today.
Today I can look back and see that there was so much I could have done differently. How late in life I realized what I was actually good at and enjoyed doing. But if I had I would not be the man I am today. I would not have the experiences I have had and even if I could have reached this point in life sooner, I am not sure that would have been a good thing. Sometimes the journey is what makes the destination to what it is.
At 43 I am a bit puzzled that I have people coming to me for advice, both in their personal life and professional life. I am not a wise man and I am no expert in any field, but I am experienced in many fields so perhaps it's that. For a long time it felt that being so diverse in what I do was a big disadvantage as I did not have true expertise in any of the areas I worked in.
I am a decent designer, I have written code since 1996 and I have quite a lot of knowledge and experience about conversion optimization and Neurowebdesign. I am certified in requirements and I have 3 years experience as a tester. I have certifications in Cisco networks and I run my own very small hosting business. Still, I know many that are better than me in all of these areas.
One thing I have learned is that when you are at my level where you do E-commerce projects on enterprise levels as a team- or project leader you always have the best people in each field in your team. They do not need you to be an expert as well, but they need you to understand what they do so you can lead them properly.
For a long time I thought being stretched thin covering all these areas made me a less attractive person on the market. Today I realize that because of this broad spectrum I am actually the opposite. It's not often I meet others that can do what I do where I can talk the talk with pretty much anyone in a project on any level and sometimes I can even surpass their capabilities and teach them a thing or two.
In the past 2 years I have noticed that because of this broad spectrum of work and life experiences people have started to come to me for advice. It can be workplace related, life related or even career related. Not only is this something I consider very flattering, but I also take it very serious as my advice could have an impact on a persons life and career.
At 43 today I realize that I have already accomplished a lot in this world, hopefully to the better. I also realize how much there is still to learn and explore. My greatest discovery in life so far is that it is ok to fail and that it is ok to let go and just dive into whatever comes. Fear no longer control me because I have learned that it is a prison of my own making.
I still struggle with permitting myself to be great as I find that to be boastful and disrespectful. I know what it is like to be a the very bottom of the darkest hole and I would never be able to consider my own worth be greater than those that still are trapped there. Perhaps though I need to consider that I can still be a light that show them a path out from that pit of despair. Perhaps I need to consider the words of Marianne Williamson:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
At 43 I am still but a student of life and I look forward to the coming years where I will fail and fall. In doing so I will also learn and hopefully become a better person. Perhaps I can someday allow myself to shine so others feel secure enough to let their own light grow and hopefully surpass my own.
Only time will tell where my journey will take me next, but I am going to enjoy the ride no matter where it takes me.
Today I am 43.