40 in 40

I am down to the final 24 hours of my 30s. While most women feel dread about reaching this milestone, I’m not sure what I feel. I was a little busy in my 30s—I buried 1 mom and 1 fiance, found myself, refined my career (despite its refusal to define itself), got married, made a home, and had a baby. I feel as though this birthday is a defining moment.

It’s no secret that I have always been very involved in community service. In high school, I was involved in leader’s club, which was a service organization. During my radio years, I worked tirelessly as a spokesperson for causes that eventually shaped who I am, and, today, I am involved in Junior League of Columbus, as well as Girl Scouts.

So, my 40 in 40 project should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well—I made the commitment to perform 40 random acts of kindness during the 40 days leading up to my 40th birthday. What I didn’t expect was the profound affect it would have on my soul.

The project began in earnest—pay for the tab at McDonald’s for the car behind me in the drive-thru line, smile at random strangers, hold doors open, etc. But, the project began to take on a deeper meaning for me around the second week.

Act #18 was to learn to forgive the guy at work who was a total prima donna. I’m sure we all know this guy—he only deigns to work there because he has to, and he thinks all of his co-workers are talentless idiots and that we should all kiss the ground he walks on. For a while, I resented this guy because of his attitude and sense of entitlement. I found out that he didn’t like me because he finds my perky attitude annoying. Rather than immediately take offense, I started to delve into what made this guy the way he was—talented, but lonely and miserable (admittedly, initially, I took some joy in torturing him by being extra perky around him). My resentment quickly turned to compassion. I was eventually able to forgive him and overlook the disdain in his voice and the eye-rolling that occurred whenever someone else gave him direction. His ire wasn’t really directed toward me and I couldn’t hold on to the resentment without feeling a piece of my soul die every time I took pleasure in egging him on. It was time to let go—he was miserable, and it really had nothing to do with me, specifically. I was a nothing but convenient target for his misery. Sadly, he may never realize what really makes him the way he is, but he’ll always have my compassion.

This birthday is all about definition for me—clarifying who I am as a wife, sister, and friend. However, the one thing I will never forget about 40 in 40 is the insight that it has granted me, and, for that, I will always be grateful.

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