Birthdays are not my favorite thing. As I was going through my old website, I came across three different posts about how much I despise the day. Truthfully, my feelings haven’t much changed in the last six years.
There are two main reasons why I avoid my birthday, but only one I’m willing to publicly acknowledge (hey, I have to keep some things to myself): I feel like a failure.
Instead of looking at the positive things I’ve accomplished – earning my Master’s Degree, solo parenting a small baby bear (who’s debatably thriving), progressing in a career I’m passionate about, moving across the country without much hesitation – I focus on the negatives – not married (or even close), not a homeowner, racked up some solid student debt (thanks private school), not well-traveled, not as fill-in-the-blank as I used to be: pretty, skinny, organized, calm, etc.
I’m hard on myself; I can admit that. I hold myself to high – sometimes unattainable – standards; I know this. Unfortunately acknowledgement doesn’t always equate to changed feelings. So in spite of an understanding of my feelings, I still don’t like my birthday. I don’t like feeling like I’m not where I’m “supposed” to be. (Which begs the questions of what does “supposed” to mean? And who set these standards? And why do I feel the need to be a slave to them? Great questions. Save them for another day.)
All that being said, I did have an amazing birthday last week – the best birthday I’ve had in years actually. But there are those moments when doubt starts to creep into the darkness that still lives within me. I’m an insecure person – partially by nature, largely by what I’ve lived through. But I don’t want to be that person. And in the last couple years, I have seen I’m really not, nor do I have to be. Because, quite frankly, she sucks. She’s moody and grumpy; anxious and spazzy. She procrastinates, jumps to conclusions and is overdramatic. Her house is a mess and she can’t quite get a handle on life. (See, she totally sucks.)
So I said fuck it. I’m not being that person anymore. I’m not going to focus on the negatives and feed into my insecurities. This year, I’m going to focus on the good.
Fear not; I have a plan:
- Talk real talk. I have to find courage to tell people how I’m feeling. People need to know what I want from them and I need to do this without embarrassment or shame of being “needy” or too much of “a girl.” I am a grown ass woman and my feelings warrant respect and real love. Standing up for myself and being honest about my feelings is neither selfish nor needy; it’s what I deserve.
- Take care of myself. Remember in my last post, I said I needed to do a better job of getting my life back in balance? Yea, that hasn’t happened yet. Remember in that paragraph you just read a minute ago, I told you how much fun that insecure person is? Yea, she needs to go away. As a health coach, I can help anyone find their intrinsic motivation; it’s ironic that when it comes to myself, I struggle. I know I am guilty of putting others before me too often and being too giving in relationships. So I need to get back to taking care of myself. As the saying goes, you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you (or even before you can love anyone else).
- Live in the light moments. Once I had a yoga teacher who ended every class with “learn from the dark moments; live in the light moments.” How true that is. I have made my fair share of errors in life. Even ones that make me cringe a decade later, but I can’t live there. I can’t continuously beat myself up over my choices. I need to learn from them, of course, but I also need to focus on the good. I read a quote once that said “When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.” Now that’s some real talk.
- Have faith in my journey. This is the hardest, by far. Life isn’t always how we imagine it would be. Mine isn’t. And it’s certainly is not “so much better than I imagined it would be!” (Which is what I feel people say when their life is going to shit and they’re in denial.) Don’t get me wrong – I love my life. But it’s hard as hell. I know I’m a strong, independent and resilient woman for going through the things I have and living the life I’ve chosen, but that doesn’t mean it’s all duckies and bunnies. Though I consider myself to be incredibly whole as a person; I still feel as if there are pieces missing in my life. I love love. (Not a shock to anyone who truly knows me, although still hard for me to admit.) I love having a partner in life. I don’t have those things. I’m still undecided on having more kids. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that. I crave stability, but still need freedom and adventure. (And I’m a firm believer you can have all those things.) I need to have faith that I’ll get to where I’m supposed to be and that what I’m doing has purpose. Easier said than done, but hey – you can’t make something happen if you aren’t willing to try.
One of my favorite songwriters wrote: “You’ve got to keep turning the page and moving on. I’ve learned [in] writing to be specific and true to yourself in the moment.”
Here’s to turning pages (enter: Bob Seger lyrics) and being the badass I know I am. Cheers to the best year yet: full of small hopes, crazy dreams and big love. Let’s do this 33.