My husband and I were downtown last week and attended an event at a funky Atlanta hotspot. We were rather out of our element and in a part of town where neither of us had been for at least a decade or more. It was amazing to see the development and progress that area of town had experienced. Here you see an old staircase inside the building. I enjoy the fact that while the area was being renovated and gentrified, no one bothered this beautiful set of steps. 

As I was climbing these stairs in my heels, bifocals and semi functioning Spanks…I realized not only was I out of my element, I was over the age of the target audience. I found myself surrounded by youth, energy and some patrons barely out of puberty. I felt old, and worn, and past an unknown expiration date for these types of things…and yet I had fun, I experienced creative surroundings, and I saw the amazing transformation of this area. 

In our lives and careers we have different steps we have to climb in order to reach our destination. Sometimes we know exactly what we are going to find at the top…excitement, challenge, personal growth. More often than not we find the unkown or unplanned, and we have to face the reality that we might not be prepared for what we find. We think we know what is happening as we make the climb, yet somewhere we end up in the unexpected. 

After having worked so hard to climb, it can be frustrating and disappointing to face such unexpected surprise. We work, we prepare, we study, we change our lives with a plan that the climb will get us what we want. In reality we end up different than expected facing the exhaustion from a long climb. But different is not bad or disappointing, it is just different. So the real challenge is not the climb, it is dealing with a the reality we find which is not the reality we expected or planned. 

So next time you make the climb – or even if you are in the middle of that journey right now – prepare yourself to be yourself no matter what the destination holds. It will hold surprises, it will amaze and it will disappoint. Don’t let that prevent you from climbing. Life is not about the destination, it is about who you become along the journey. Don’t be afraid to be middle aged, wearing spanks and bifocals while climbing stairs that leave you winded. You have something to offer when you arrive…experience, expertise, wisdom, strength. Because, as you and I both know, there will be those who arrive at the top completely unprepared that will need your sage advice to survive their new reality.