Looking Beyond Age
From the time I was a little girl, my grandmother would announce that she was turning 39-years -old on her birthday each year. As a child, I thought that was ridiculous. Why on earth would anyone lie about their age? Well, last year I turned 39 and I so get it now!
Birthdays started to be emotional for me when I turned 35 because there are societal expectations for certain milestones such as getting married, having children, or feeling accomplished in your career. It can be upsetting to realize you haven’t achieved milestones that are meaningful to you. What do you do if you haven’t accomplished a milestone by a certain age? What if you’ve accomplished a milestone, yet you still feel unfulfilled?
I’ve started my own successful psychotherapy private practice, overcome dyslexia, survived intimate partner violence, and walked away from three potentially deadly car accidents. When I describe myself, I use the words resilient, self-aware, and accepting. Yet, coping with getting older and being unmarried and childless has been one of my greatest challenges.
With the exception of when I was a toddler and learned how to walk, talk, and relate to the world, 39 has been my greatest year for personal growth. I am a seeker, and I finally got the answers I was looking for. This year, I stopped trying to live the life I felt I was supposed to live according to cultural standards and began discovering and embracing the life that I am meant to live. Seeing myself beyond age and beyond what my life “should” look like allowed me to really love the life meant for me.
I took my 15 year hobby of studying astrology and I hired Rebecca Gordon, astrologer founder of My Path Astrology and a regular expert on the Dr. Oz Show, because I believe that in order to advance myself I needed to seek out a mentor who is highly skilled and an expert in her field. As a psychotherapist, I have more than ten years of institutional academic training in understanding the human psyche. I worried if my professional credibility would be questioned if I shared my passion for astrology. What I learned about myself and my true nature from astrology was so eye-opening and spot-on that I couldn’t help applying the knowledge I learned everywhere and doing astrology charts with everyone! I finally found answers about myself and others that I wasn’t able to discover in the psychology field alone. I used the new information I learned about myself and chose to travel more, express greater vulnerability with those I love, and move into the apartment I always dreamed of living in. For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to fix myself and, as a result, feel a greater sense of peace and acceptance than ever before.
As a psychotherapist, I fight for my clients to really see themselves and what matters to them. I don’t want them to feel the need to live their lives for an audience or measure themselves against cultural expectations. I apply these lessons to my own life, too. Who would have thought that at 39- years-old, I would begin studying galactic patterns and how gravitational movement influences our behavior and how our lives unfold? I couldn’t have predicted it, but I am so fortunate to have embraced my passion. Astrology has given me the gift of acceptance and it has taught me that everyone is in his or her own ecosystem with different paths to follow.
I’m grateful to be entering this next decade with a more holistic understanding of who I am and how to become more self-aware and self-accepting. As I turn 40, not 39 again, I still have many emotions about getting older. Self-awareness doesn’t mean that life becomes pain-free, but it sure makes life a lot easier to cope with, appreciate, and celebrate.
About the Author:
Aimee Barr, LCSW is a psychotherapist with private practices in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Union Square, Manhattan. Her practice specializes in supporting adults navigate their toughest life transitions such as career changes, divorces and break-ups. She has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Fordham University and a Post-Masters Certificate from The National Institute of the Psychotherapies (NIP). She has spent many years as a sexual assault response team volunteer and is currently a board member of ARISE foundation, which is a charity based in New York City and London. It is founded on the belief that more should be done to support grass-roots anti-slavery networks. When she is not seeing clients, she works on employing mindfulness and self-acceptance in her own everyday life. She has been featured in The Huffington Post, Well + Good, Monster and is a frequent lecturer at Fordham University.