Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meditation on an Approaching Birthday

For years, I loathed birthdays. I dreaded their approach for days in advance and often cried on the big day itself. I figured that, as I aged, things would only get worse. But at some point in the past few years - 26? 27? - I stopped hating my birthday. No, I wouldn't say I love my birthday now (let's not overdo it here), but I find myself having a pleasant attitude toward it in general and, specifically, its approach this year. 

Next Tuesday I'll turn 29, which will officially put me into the almost-30 realm. For me, that's a little frightening but also a little exciting. My 20s have been good to me - marriage, a house, several degrees, the start of a career - and I'm looking forward to the plans I have for my 30s. 

I've found quite a bit of truth in things I've read about life becoming more enjoyable as you age. For a long time this seemed to me like nonsense propagated by people who were jealous of the young. Sort of like, "I'm 35 and hate it, and in an attempt to convince myself that I don't want to be 25, I'm going to say being 35 is the best thing ever." But within maybe, I don't know, the past year or so, I've experienced a number of random moments where I've thought just that: this is so much better than it was back then

In the past few years, I've achieved greater self-confidence and comfort in my skin, a fuller sense of direction in my personal and my professional lives. It's a cheesy thing to say, I admit, but I've figured out - even if just a little bit - how to appreciate the journey instead of rushing to the end. Like a lot of people, I rushed through high school, rushed through college, and kept rushing rushing rushing through much of my twenties. There wasn't a specific moment when - poof! - I stopped doing that, but thinking about the difference b/t then and now, it seems that I must've asked, "What am I rushing toward?" and decided instead to take the scenic, 25 mph route. (Which sometimes feels like the back route . . . to an unfamiliar destination . . . haha.) 

And I've become more grateful. These days, I'm a lot more conscious than I was in the past of the wonderful things I have. And, no, I'm not just talking material possessions, though a warm home, nice and clean clothes, and a working (though piece of crap) car are certainly things to be grateful for. 

I'm talking about a supportive family, a funny and generous husband, kind and caring neighbors, understanding friends, time to myself (every once in a while), a strong mind, a healthy body, creativity. A lot of women live in frightening, unsafe, unhealthy situations from which they can't escape; I'm grateful to be surrounded by positive people in a positive environment.

Sure, I miss things about being, say, 20, like my smooth, clear skin. I've got a lot more wrinkles these days (especially from furrowing, sigh), and my cheeks are a mess from rosacea that suddenly appeared at around age 25 and just won't quit. But I think overall I've gained more good stuff than I lost. 

I've got a lot to work on, this coming year and in the years after. One thing that comes immediately to mind is my body image. Even though I don't obsess about food and working out like I did a decade ago, how I look has way too much impact on me, and I struggle to feel good about myself when the scale goes up 2 or 3 pounds. This has been a problem for many many years, and although I haven't changed it yet, I'll continue trying to. 

And that's where I am: still trying. I've got to credit Lumosity with giving me the inspiration for this post - in the form of a quote by Thomas Edison - "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work." Turning 29 gives me a whole new year to search for ways that do work. 

And hey, maybe the next celebratory day to get a major makeover in my mind is New Year's/New Year's Eve which I hate with a passion. Though I wouldn't take that to the bank.

1 comment:

  1. O what I wouldn’t do to be in my 20’s again. They were a fantastic time. But as I slowly approach my 40’s, I’m less and less concerned with turning older but, being healthy.

    O yes, I’ve put on a few pounds around my waist, but hey, it’s all good! So long as I don’t go over 180lbs, I’m happy. I had a physical (blood work and all) a few months back and was given a clean bill of health.

    Relax, enjoy life. You could be dead tomorrow....