My Birthday is coming up in 7 short days. Unlike other birthdays, I am approaching this one with doubts, insecurity, and much trepidation. 23 just seems so far and so different from 22. I know many people are turning 40, 50, or 60, so they have a more legitimate reason to worry about getting old than I do, but I can’t help but feel this way. Just a short while ago I was in high school, I was dating boys, I was learning how to drive, I was planning what my life would look like now…
I think I spent most of spring and summer obsessing about 23. I’m literally terrified. I actually experience the physiological effects of fear and anxiety—my heart beats faster, my stomach is flooded with butterflies, I am restless. And somehow nothing I tell myself about 23 or nothing anybody else says makes me feel any better. That’s why the next few posts (as well as the last 3) will be a slight departure from my usual style of “impaling people with the truth”* I’m feeling more introspective and contemplative.
I recall other birthdays being exciting. Like turning 18 and going to college. I had so many dreams then, I had intended to be the next Dr. Phil only better and of course blacker! Then came 21. I spent the entire week celebrating at Disney World! I remember feeling overwhelmed with the excitement of graduating and completing my research theses. Even 22, didn’t seem as ominous, as I prepared to apply to graduate school, move out of my parent house, and change the world. At the risk of sounding like one of those whiny, woe-is-me-forever-depressed bloggers (those are even more annoying than the ones who post trillions of pictures of their children and pets—no offence to anyone) I don’t look forward to 23. I am half tempted to run away this birthday. Just lock myself in some obscure hotel on the other side of town, abandon my cell phone and not tell anybody where I am. I don’t really feel like celebratory e-cards, cakes, presents, and that infamous birthday song. I don’t look forward to the verse that goes “how old are you now? How old are you now?” Yet I know that if I looked back on 23 from some even scarier age, I would miss these memories.
Last year around this time, I was in the store purchasing food and party supplies for my Black party (all my friends had to wear black—which is my favorite color). I was thinking about that guy I was totally enamored with. I was preparing for some wonderful thing to happen in my romantic, social, personal, spiritual, and career life. I just knew that 22 was something to smile about. But it left me empty and bitterly disappointed. It reneged on all of its promises. It brought more pessimism and cynicism. It left me exhausted and longing. It was the year of failures. 22 deceived me, and just when I need it, it’s leaving me for some unknown but greater horror. Or at least the pessimist inside of me suspects some greater horror. I know some people are going to say I’m tripping, but I can’t dismiss my own emotions so casually. What tragedies will 23 bring? What new unparalleled heartache? What brutal realizations? What dreams deferred? I don’t know, and perhaps that is why I am so apprehensive.
I don’t want 23, but I can’t hide from it. I can’t pull the covers over my head and pretend it doesn’t exist. I can’t ball like a baby, and pray that God makes time stop. And so 23 is inevitable. I’m beginning to wearily stare off into space. My mood is reflective, nostalgic, and sad. I try to ignore the anxiety, but it doesn’t go away. I sigh once more from the bottom of my soul. I close my eyes and pray for God’s divine comfort.
*That’s what my dad calls my blunt social commentary
UPDATE: Of course, I realize that life is a blessing. The tragedy that I spoke of in my last entry has reminded me of how short life is and how we must live it to the fullest. It has reminded me that life is a God-given gift that can be taken a way at any moment without notice. In light of these things I am quite grateful to God for life and strength, yet these anxieties still haunt me and like most things I feel I need to address them and “write them out”, so to speak. In a way I feel bad about feeling bad, but that doesn’t alleviate the sadness/anxiety I have about 23. Moreover, I don’t want anyone to interpret this post as ingratitude to God.