It’s that time of year once again.
On the brink of turning 31, I thought about last year’s birthday. It was a momentous occasion, and the celebration was exactly what I wanted it to be. At my stepmother’s house, I was surrounded by friends and family. Not everyone was there, but there were enough people from my life, both past and present, to make the night something special. There was cake, there was laughter, and I even chastised my stepmother for interrupting my brief speech. Don’t worry; it was all in jest.
It was such a fun night, but when I think back, I was running myself ragged. I had just started a new job after an emotional departure from my previous job, and in addition to the emotional strain, I was also extremely tired. After a hot summer and a subpar air conditioner, sleep was hard to come by. I used to have nights in college where I couldn’t sleep, and I could make it through the days, but I never enjoyed it. It was a special skill that I had, a party trick I didn’t want to show off. I was in my early twenties at that time, and there were a couple of months there where sleep was limited, almost nonexistent. I could push through the burning eyes in the morning, but it’s hard to function when you’re coasting on fumes all of the time.
On the eve of my 30th birthday, I enjoyed the party, but I also felt dizzy. I hard to start sleeping soon, or it would all catch up to me; it just had to. I didn’t want to know what would happen if my body finally told me, “Enough is enough.” It was an uncertain time, but once September came around and the nights were cooler, I was able to close my eyes and get some rest. I can still make it through the days when sleep is minimal, but I’m hoping that changes in my thirties. I don’t want my insomnia to spill over into the next decade of my life.
The anxiety wasn’t helping. About six months until my 30th birthday, I felt the panic creep in. I lied to myself and told myself that this was an exciting time, that I was looking forward to a new chapter in my life, but my brain new better. It was a matter of time before my lack of conviction gave way to anxiety and stress, stress at leaving my twenties. My twenties weren’t a particularly happy time in my life, but there’s something so daunting about leaving an entire decade behind you, one where you still considered yourself a kid, even when I’d never actually felt like one. When you hit 30, it’s like a last call for adulthood. You now have to grow up, and make something of yourself, if you are ever going to make something of yourself.
This birthday feels decidedly different.
30 was a fast year, and on the brink of turning 31, I can thankfully say that there is no anxiety this time around. Last year, I fought to cling on to 29, but this year I’m already telling people I’m 31 and I’m at peace with it. I don’t know what about 31 appeals to me, maybe it’s that I’m off the borderline. I’m now firmly into my 30’s, and there’s no looking back. Maybe I’m learning how to let go of the things that used to stress me out, and the change of perspective is doing wonders for my mental health. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in, better than at any point during my twenties. I don’t want to jinx myself, I just know that I feel good about where I am.
I wanted 30 to be a big year because why not? Why not have 30 be the year in which your life turns on a dime, and something really great happens to you? It’s important to note that I didn’t define what a great year would be. I’ve never been very goal-oriented, and when you don’t know what you’re chasing, you can’t be surprised when you don’t get what you want.
Staring down the barrel of the 30-year gun, I’m sure I said something vague and noncommittal like, “I’ll get my life together,” and left it at that. I still don’t think I have it completely together, but I did do a few things that I’m happy about. I kept up with my pursuits in exercise. I continued writing my blog and even did some writing for work. I continued down the spiritual path I’ve been on, and I’m thrilled with my progress. I’m energetic and happy, productive, the kind of person I’ve always thought that I’m capable of being. My anxiety is much better than it’s been, and I’m sleeping better than I was this time last year. I moved into Boston, and I’m living by myself, something I’ve always wanted to do, even if it’s only for a year or two.
I learned a lot this year, but it wasn’t the year I wanted it to be. Maybe 30 was the year for misdirection, and I got everything I needed, but it wasn’t what I expected or hoped for. I know that there are areas of my life I need to pay more attention to. I’m still floating. I know who I am, who I want to be, but I’m still not exactly sure where I fit into this mess. Maybe I just have to lay back and relax, trust that things will unfold the way that they’re supposed to. I’ve tried to force change before, and it’s almost always been to my detriment. More than anything, I know I want more, but I’m taking time to appreciate everything I’ve been given.
I’m not sure what I expect out of this year, and maybe it’s nothing at all. I spent a lot of memorable moments with friends and family this past year, and that’s what I’ll treasure the most. There was no drama or anything of the sort (there never has been), and I know that these are moments I’ll take with me forever, the kind that get immortalized in pictures. Maybe 31 will be nothing special, or maybe it’ll be everything that 30 wasn’t. I know that I’m still so very blessed to have so many good people in my life. I know what I value, what brings me happiness, and I’m not sure I need more than that. Birthdays should be shared with people we love. I plan to spend my weekend doing just that. Thanks for reading.