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I can’t pursue that now. It’s too late.

I can’t go back to school.

Do you know how old I’ll be when I finish?

I hear this all the time. I believed it for a long time. As far as I was concerned, given my actual age, it really was too late. I had screwed up too much. Missed my chance. Life, as I had hoped it would be, was pretty much over. Period.

So many women seem to be filled with angst over their particular season of life. Whether we’re on the shady side of 20, 30, or 40, we can be haunted by the idea that we should be further along, more accomplished, better situated. Basically, more fulfilled than we currently are. And the more we focus on what we think we should be doing to change that, the more nervous we get…convinced that anything is better than what we’re doing now.

It’s a terrible feeling…that fur ball in the pit of our stomachs…and the bad new is that attempting to allay the sense of doom by doing anything often results in choosing the wrong thing, which in turn only prolongs the misery. The cycle goes something like this: we avoid what we’re too terrified to face, then our avoidance begets fear; fear begets more fear; fear incites the flight or fight or hide instinct; poor choices trigger shame, driving us deeper into our caves; isolation piques more of the above….and off we go again, doing more of whatever we’ve learned to do with our inner panic, while still trying to figure out what to do, how to do it, and who in the world is safe enough to finally share the truth we thought we could never utter to another living soul.

Exhausted yet? Feeling that fur ball with me? I’m a nervous wreck myself…just remembering what it was like. Because, the truth is…I lived this way for a very long time. And, believe it or not, it wasn’t until the shady side of 50 that I finally got rid of that ol’ fur ball. Better late than never, right?

The good news is that it finally happened. That it wasn’t too late after all. That life really can begin again…even after screwing up, missing chances, and completely losing hope. And the even better news for you…wherever you happen to be in life…is that by beginning the process of breaking old cycles now, you get to start enjoying the benefits sooner rather than later. Much sooner, hopefully!

So…next time you hear yourself asking the question we started with…the one I hear all the time…take a minute to actually consider the answer. Because here’s the deal…regardless of your age right now.

The age you will be when you finish school…or complete the counseling you may need…or take the steps required to pursue what you really want for your life…is the exact same age you’ll be if you don’t.