Marching to the beat of one's own drummer is not as easy as it sounds. After all, we assume one marches to the beat of one's own drummer naturally, inclined to listen to said beat without interference from media, gossip, judgement or criticism.
Yet even for those of us who hear the call of a drumbeat vastly different from that of our peers or the way we're supposed to march according to movies and television, marching steadily to that beat can be challenging if not downright heartbreaking and sometimes, seemingly, impossible.
Since we are social creatures, it takes a lot for us to go out on a limb, as it were, and just do "our own thing" without the social support and approval we so often crave and actually need to feel that we belong.
Yet it is fully possible, if one is encouraged by even just one other trusted human being, to embrace one's differences, one's authentically different drumbeat, and march forward with confidence, knowing that somehow, somewhere, some way, there is a place of fitting in, if not with one's peers, then certainly within one's own skin which is quite an accomplishment after all.
Perhaps part of the work of middle age is to figure out what's happened and what one desires to have happen in the rest of life.
To determine that you've been very unhappy in your marriage or relationship but satisfied at work would be something to examine; or maybe it's the opposite. You've been happily building a family life you adore but could do more for your career or creativity.
Not only in middle age, but in every age, taking stock of what's been going on in your life and where you'd like to steer your ship in the future is a wonderful way of checking in with yourself and continuing to be the captain of your own life; it's just that in middle age this taking stock tends to be more poignant, somehow, as our biological clocks feel they may be ringing off a halfway point or something similar.
However young you are, tilting your head inward to listen to this different drumbeat is crucial. If we are to go to school, then college, then med school and so on because we want to please everyone but ourselves, we may find ourselves at fifty feeling like a failure although no one would know from knowing us.
Or, conversely, we may drop out of school, bumble around a bit, and find ourselves overjoyed with happiness about the small cafe that we've designed, which is thriving and providing an income for ourselves, our partners, and our four adopted children.
Whatever your situation, knowing that it is all right to feel, think, or create, develop, learn or march differently than others or what others may expect from you is not only valuable, it's crucial in developing according to an authentic version of yourself. If you live to be very very old and wise, which I hope we all do, what will you look back on and congratulate yourself for? Will it be for making someone's day or for making sure your parents never became disappointed in you? Will it be for fulfilling life long dreams or for at least attempting to do so? Will it be for the love you gave or the money you made? Whatever is true for you, hearing the tempo of that truth is your birthright.
Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to EmpowHER.
Edited by Jody Smith