The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits. – Hervey Allen
On the eve of my birthday, I’ve been thinking a great deal about what the past year has meant. Last year, I thought I was celebrating a momentous occasion. At least in my mind, turning 30 ranks high on the list of life achievements. It is a new chapter and it marks the beginning of a wondrous journey. At first, I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and who to expect it from. I wish there was a eBook, a manual, or a tutorial of sorts on “how a person should turn 30.” Of course I learned the hard way. Almost a year has passed–364 days to be exact–and I have learned great life lessons on turning 30–well, turning any age.
When I turned 25, I wrote an exhaustive list of things that I wanted to accomplish before the age of 30–travel to five different countries, publish a manuscript, continue building upon my brand, downgrade my LLC to a smaller boutique consultancy, start a blog, create a line of organic hair and skin products, quit my part-time job, and have a baby. Last year, I reexamined the “list” a week before my birthday and realized that I hadn’t done any of those things yet. I was mad at myself, but what was lost in those feelings of disappointment was my ability to be proud of what I had accomplished instead of what was on the list. I was invited to participate in the Toni Morrison biennial conference in Paris, but lack of resources prevented me from going. I kept dwelling on not going as opposed to being thankful for just having the opportunity to go. My writing/editing consulting business folded due to…you guessed it! Lack of resources. Again, my emotions got the best of me. I focused too heavily on losing my LLC instead of championing my efforts to start my own business. I took a risk that not many people are willing to take. I stepped out on faith to start my own business and even if it collapsed, that is certainly something to be proud of. The manuscript that I’ve been working on hasn’t been finished and I hit all kinds of brick walls trying to simply get information on how to get it published. So I did what I did best. Gave up on it and spent countless hours sulking and wondering if I’d ever get it published. Instead, I should have been proud that I even had the energy to start the process of becoming a published author. Grateful to have the gift of expressing myself through the written word. I get it now. Nothing is stopping me from accomplishing those things on my list. Don’t get lost thinking about shortcomings. Get lost in your successes and anticipate greater triumphs in future.
Another great lesson that I learned on my 30th–lowering my expectations of other people. Yes, I was feeling down about not having accomplished all on my list. Yes, I was not in a financial situation to celebrate my special occasion. However, I somehow had a glimmer of hope that the people around me would have realized this and helped me to celebrate something so near and dear to my heart. If a person could earn their rights to being celebrated, I was 100% sure that I had earned that. I wasn’t keeping count by any means, but I recalled putting lots of good energy and love into celebrating other people. Last year, on my 30th birthday, I was devastated when I didn’t receive that love back. I am not a materialistic person, so a party or lavish gifts is not what I desired. Just a small showing of gratitude that symbolized “we appreciate you and want to celebrate your 30 years on earth.” Things in my world were a little turbulent, but I thought I could count on others for a quick pick-me-up. When nothing happened (missed phone calls, no cards in the mail, no cake, no celebration), that was God’s way of letting me know that a lesson needed to be learned. STOP DEPENDING ON OTHERS TO CARE ABOUT YOU. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS WHO CLEARLY AREN’T THINKING OF YOU–NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE. I spent so much time dwelling on those who didn’t come through for me in my time of need (I’m good at dwelling–should’ve majored in it!) that I didn’t even appreciate the one person that tried to make my day special. Although my husband didn’t have any money, he found a way to take me to a nice restaurant and walking tour of Boston. At first, I cringed at that idea. It was hot outside and I was upset, but I had a great time. Also, my in-laws gave my husband a gift card to my favorite store just so that I could have something to open on my actual birthday. I was too lost in my emotions to appreciate all of those blessings.
Fast forward to 2012. I have learned the art of forgiveness–still learning–and I have moved on–still moving. My acupuncturist sent me a card with a free treatment. Hooray! I’m going zip lining for the first time with my husband today. Hooray! I just saw Spiderman in the movies and it was truly amazing (ha). Hooray! I’m off this Sunday which happens to be my birthday. Double hooray! We’re going to church, then to have a nice breakfast, and then to enjoy walking in the heat. Hooray! My friend, Mary, has a birthday brunch planned for me in Manhattan on Tuesday. And guess what? I am grateful for it all. God is good. Happy 31st Birthday to me!