Back off. And butt out.

Ok, that probably came off as rude. If the sentiment doesn’t apply to you (and chances are good that it doesn’t), my apologies. But I had an incident this week that made me start pondering all the unwarranted, unnecessary and unrequested advice that seems to be flowing out there in the ether.

I received an unsolicited comment (and yes, unapproved and unposted, as will be any that follow from that source) on last week’s blog from someone from my past, who should be well aware by now that she is not welcome in my life. The gist of it was that I had gotten sick because I was running too hard for my age, trying to act like someone much younger. It was yet another event in what has become a  20-odd year-long criticism of…well, me.

I’m not ashamed of my age, I’ll be 52 this summer—and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I don’t know what 52 is supposed to feel like. Admittedly, I have the occasional ache or pain I didn’t have 20 years ago and sometimes I get tired—but it’s an earned tired. All in all, I really don’t feel much differently from how I felt in my 20s. I’m grateful that my life is so full. Happy I have well-paying work that taxes my intellect and my creativity, that I have friends that crowd my schedule, that I have domestic responsibilities that I quite willingly perform to ensure what I consider to be my lovely home stays that way. To have it all—and I think I’ve got a lot of “it” all—you have to give your all.

I got sick because I came in contact with a virus. Not because I’m actually living my life.

Given time to mull the comment, I realize that the only effective response to someone’s unwarranted opinion lies in this week’s headline. I don’t have to explain, defend or justify my life to anyone. And I certainly refuse to apologize for working hard, running fast and getting somewhere. Especially considering the source. So there.

Besides, no matter what one does, no matter how well you succeed, there is always going to be someone who tries to take you down a notch or two. Bring you down to their level. That’s just the way it is. Success, achievement, real skill at something tends to intimidate. And small, mediocre people will always try to reduce those who excel because it’s the only thing that makes them feel good about themselves. For far too many, it’s easier to tear down than build up; it requires less effort to belittle the lives and priorities of those beyond one’s reach than actually go out and try to succeed at something or work to make one’s own life better.

By the way, I feel much better. I was well on the mend the day after I posted the blog. Just like I said I would.

Don’t blame me for the tone of this rant—blame the person who thinks that at the tender young age of 51 and nearly ¾, I’m too old to be contributing, to be striving, to be living a full, vital and complete life. But that’s just an opinion and thankfully not one held by those who matter to me.

Back off. And butt out. Say it out loud. It’s incredibly empowering. And a self-affirming way to reinforce, if to no one else but yourself, that your choices are right for you and that you don’t need anyone’s permission to make them.

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