Let It Go: Accepting the Things I Cannot Change

My version of a selfie on my 32nd birthday.
Yesterday I turned 32. I look nowhere near my age, but I think at least now it's less likely I'll be mistaken for a high school student. It wouldn't surprise me to be mistaken for a college student.

It's happened before.

True story: Several years ago, I was writing a profile on a couple of smarty pants kids and this week of the brain they had created at their school. So I went to the elementary school to cover it. The kids' mom knew I was coming. I clearly introduced myself as the freelance writer from Sacramento Parent Magazine, and yet -- and I'm taking an educated guess here -- because of my baby face and little girl voice, she immediately pegged me for one of the student volunteers from Sac State.


But such is my life. It's one of the realities I've come to accept. I can't change my voice. I can dress professionally and wear makeup, but that only goes so far. I just have to suck it up and deal.

I don't always deal so well with things that are out of my control. It's something I've struggled with my whole life. I'm not a Type A Personality, but boy do I share some of those characteristics. I'm also incredibly self aware, so I recognize when I'm probably coming off condescending and when I'm being emotional. There's nothing like acknowledging that you're having an emotional reaction to dampen the fun of actually giving into your emotions.

I am a logical, intelligent, organized, educated and informed woman, and life would be so much easier if everyone could just be a little more like me. But since that's not going to happen, I know what will make life a little stressful.

Lord, in my 32nd year, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

1. My loving husband of nearly nine years will forever find the floor to be the appropriate space for his "I wore that today, but I'm going to wear it again" clothes. I will always have to ask, "Is this dirty?" before I put his jeans or T-shirts in the hamper because one woman's crumpled pile of dirty laundry is another man's crumpled pile of clean-enough laundry.

Related: If I ask my sweet, well-meaning husband to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer and I don't remind him to check the dryer settings, it's on me if the full load tumbles for an hour without proper heat on wrinkle release. Granted, half the time, he will remember to check. But if I don't follow through with, "Please move the clothes AND check the settings," I should just expect a pile of wet clothes when the dryer buzzes. To expect anything else after all these years borders on the definition of insanity.

Now that I've passively-aggressively complained about my husband, let me move onto my friends and family. See, I told you I was self aware.

2. My friends and family will daily post politically-oriented memes full of fallacies. What they find clever are really just hasty generalizations, false causes, slippery slopes, false dichotomies, straw mans and weak analogies. And then there's the memes that just flat out misrepresent remarks and tie quotes to the famous person they wish had said it.

I cannot change this. I can choose to keep scrolling, click "hide post," or if I'm daring, comment. But I can't expect good results from my comment. "That quote is real, but that person never said it."

"Well, I agree with it, so what does it matter who said it?"

Going into a lecture about why it's wrong to falsely attribute a controversial (or any) quote to someone is most likely not going to matter to the person who just asked why it mattered. So I need to learn to let it not matter so much to me. I cannot change the impulse in others to click "share" on fallacious information, but I can work to change my response.

Family time.

3. My in-laws will most often give little notice for plans, and my mom will want to book the tiniest detail well in advance. As someone who falls in between the two extremes, I can only accept that the way other people do things is not the way I would do them.

I'm not hosting the birthday dinner for the grandparent, so the fact that we were called the day of with the invite is not under my control. I can rearrange my schedule for family time, or I can put myself and my work first and decline. (Spoiler alert: It's always the first option.)

While I can't look into a crystal ball to glean what two side dishes I'll crave two weeks from now for my birthday dinner, I can accept that my mom would like to know sooner than later, so I might as well just pick two safe options and be grateful she's cooking.

To summarize: I need to embrace my inner Elsa and LET IT GO. (Even if the song grates on my nerves, and I maintain Idina Menzel was the wrong choice to voice a young Disney princess. Yes, Elsa sings like a 40-year-old woman, but let it go, Laura. LET IT GO.)