I Turned 34 on September 1st
Here's what I've Learned So Far
My 34th birthday just passed on September 1st. I wasn't even going to celebrate but my best friend wasn't having it -"You aren't doing anything for your birthday?!"- She booked me a one-way ticket up to NYC and reminded me what it feels like to be surrounded by love.
Now that seven days have passed, I'm feeling a bit pensive. I don't necessarily feel any different than I did at 33. In fact, I still feel 25 and if it weren't for the dates on my license reminding me of my actual age I'm sure I would believe it too. But something along the way has changed and it feels a lot like wisdom. You see I am a recovering people pleaser who likes to control things but spent a lot of years procrastinating. Don't get me wrong, these are not the only traits I've accumulated in 33 years of life but if I can't be real with myself about the things that I have had to overcome in life my growth would have been for naught.
They say you can't choose your family but friends are the family you choose and during my twenties I spent time cultivating that foundation of family. I got my first apartment by myself at 27 years old, was driving my first car - a black on black Honda Accord Coupe I named Batwoman because of her winged dashboard - and was working in a field catered to helping others. In 2018, my pillar of stability came tumbling down and my mind and body succumbed to anxiety and depression on steroids. The closest relationships in my life (friends and family included) that I thought were unshakeable led me to examine every single one with a magnifying glass ready to pluck out the snakes in the grass. The traumas of my past crept up inside me and led me to an unthinkable place. The only way out was through and the healing was not linear.
The good thing about hitting your mental rock bottom is knowing that every brick you lay can help build you back up stronger than ever. It's okay to put yourself first. In fact, it's necessary. I did, and nobody died. At first, you feel selfish and even guilty - scared to drop the ball of investment in trying to remain a "good" person to her, him, and them. Will they be mad at me? Will they forget about me? Then you remember, they are literally out there just trying to do the same thing you are; working towards something better.
For as long as I can remember, my confidence came from the root of my relationship in God. If that was off, I was off, which meant I needed to get back into my spiritual zone. But what happens when your faith and emotions collide? It seems like there are times they duke it out in the ring of life. Which one will throw the match?
My sense of wanting to remain in control comes from a place of feeling out of control too many times. I have learned that the more grip we have on something or someone the farther they drift away and that feeling of control spirals. The most in control action we can take in life is to let go. Let go of the weight of other people's opinions, let go of your fear, let go of your expectations of others and even the ones you put on yourself and let go of anything holding you back. Just let go. And watch all the beauty that comes in when you free yourself of the need to hold on so tightly.
Embrace every change. A good friend of mine once told me to be like water. It was the first time I heard that quote by Bruce Lee and it has stuck with me ever since.
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
There is power in standing in your circumstances and who you are, flaws and all, knowing that you've done all you can with good intentions and simply go with the flow.
Go after all the things you want. You owe it to yourself and nobody else to be great. You owe it to yourself to pursue the very thing in your heart that you can't stop lighting up about. What are you afraid of? Them? Failure? Who is "them"? and you've already failed if you never even try. Never give up. I don't care if it takes you three weeks, three months, or three years. Perseverance makes all the difference if you really want to do it. Don't live a long life and wake up in your 80s with regrets!
I don't feel any different than I did at 33, maybe a few more scars from the wounds of life but even more deeper indentations in my cheeks when I laugh; I'm realizing the feeling I feel is grateful.
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