My birthday is in January. The older I get, the more my thoughts on getting older have shifted. I hate having a January birthday for one major reason. It is way too close to all of the other major holidays, so it kind of gets forgotten. (Not that I need a parade for my birthday, but as a kid I always got the combo gifts and it always felt like an afterthought).
But I also love having a January birthday for one big reason. I love that my birthday falls very close to the new year because it’s the perfect time for reflecting on what’s been and thinking about what’s to come. I always spend a lot of time reflecting on my past goals and what I hope to accomplish in the coming year.
This is the first year though, that I actually dreaded my birthday. I’m getting way too close to that mid-life milestone and it feels scary for some reason. I sat with this feeling of unease with getting older and dug into why I felt this way. I know a lot of people go through mid-life crisis, but I’m not that old, I definitely don’t feel that old, so why am I freaking out about a number?
What I realized about turning older is that it isn’t and never was about the age, it’s not about the number. I am not where I wanted to be at this certain age.
See, we all have these expectations for our lives. Some of us set serious expectations for ourselves and if we don’t meet those goals, then we’re instant failures. I am very goal-oriented. If I set a goal, I achieve it. It might take me 9 years (read: completing my Ph.D.), but I’ll get there. Having that tenacity to never give up, that’s a trait (or maybe skill) that I can say I actually admire about myself. But it’s not always a positive thing. Sometimes, I’m much too hard on myself for not achieving a goal I set for myself.
I’ve had to really reflect on why I don’t feel accomplished enough – to reconsider what I actually want out of life, and shift my goals to move in that direction. Our move to California was one of those refocusing points. I knew just how unhappy I was in Boston and I knew I had lived too many years (since we left in 2014) in places I didn’t want to be. For some people, place doesn’t matter. But for me, it does.
Although I don’t love the physical aspects of aging – who wants wrinkles or more grey hair? What I DO love about aging is the perspective that you do get with being older. My parents always used to say it, and I would roll my eyes, but it is true. We do know better when we’re older. We know who we are, we know what we want. So I’m embracing my one more year on this planet and I’m recommitting to my goals. We all get off-track sometimes. The best part about this life is our ability to have free will, make new choices, and reach for the life we want.
I am beyond blessed to have been born into a family that values education, taught me good work ethic, and empowered me to be whatever I wanted to be. I know not everyone has those opportunities. Instead of dwelling on what I haven’t yet accomplished, I’m working to refocus on what I have done. I’m setting the stage for my own future successes. The more years I acquire, the more prepared I feel for the challenge. Afterall, age really is just a number 😉