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I can keep straight in my head all the dates and endless elements of a dozen college application pieces for a child, but I can not figure out how to turn down the alarm on my cool new phone to save my life.

I canand docook mostly without recipes at this point, but I drive around with one headlight burned out because the thought of spending actual energy to go get it replaced just seems wasteful to me.

I recently got excited about learning there are these vertical bin-things in which to store wrapping paper so it doesn’t get all crinkly (never mind that that is what you do with wrapping paperyou unwrap it and crumple it up), but I keep exactly all my nightstand drawers full of I don’t even know what junk and it bothers me not in the least.

Said differently, I’m not motivated to organize my kitchen cabinets where I co-mingle spices and a random assortment of other necessary things, but I will go to war over wrongly arranged throw pillows in our living space.

I will engender all the warm feelings of welcome in my house, but I am just as content to eat lunch by myself in a restaurant and am easily annoyed by people who seem unwilling to be alone with their thoughts that run wild when they are otherwise undistracted.

RELATED: I’m in My 40s and Finally Hitting My Stride

I can not tell you what uninteresting things we have in the unfinished part of our garage because nobody needs to care that we now own an adjustable ladder or somehow have boxing gloves, but I will instantly know if you have touched any bookshelf in my domain, and I will likely end you.

Friends, I can’t tell you why some things light me up and other things burn me out. I just know we’re all put together with things that are good and things that are bad and all the other things in between that make us who we are.

Here’s the thing: It’s A-OK to be all these things.

Somebody somewhere in your life woke up this morning on a rocky shore, having been tossed around in a storm for the preceding days and weeks, and they’re emotionally or spiritually shipwrecked. 

But they’re still all the other things, too. They’re survivors and strong swimmers and somebody else’s likely hero in a story you didn’t witness.

And I’m not metaphorically talking about politics, with everybody everywhere running hot. Life was already full of the good, the bad, and the other.

I’m talking about midlife, this space we fill up with ALL THESE THINGS that we have to continually sort through to make space to breathe deeply.

The headlights and the cabinets and the ladders and the junk-drawers and bookshelves and the phones and the pillows and the applications and the boxing gloves and the meals and the thoughts that stampede through our brains. ALL THESE THINGS.

We are all these things. And it is perfectly all right.

Because we are midlifers, strong swimmers, and unsung heroes. Even on a rocky shore. Even with a burned-out light.

RELATED: What Mid-Life Crisis? Turning 40 is Everything.

Because we can cook without directions. We can remember the really important things and not waste space on the stupid stuff. And perhaps, most importantly, we’ve learned how to keep our own companythe good, the bad, and the other.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

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Whitney Westbrook

Whitney Westbrook writes about navigating midlife, mostly with grace. Because midlife is relentless and irreverent, and because we should all talk about it out loud more. Follow her for more misadventures and insights on all things midlife at So Very Whitney

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