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Friday, August 10, 2007

23 Fears

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.


Katie McLenithan said...

Look at it this way...you thought 22 was gonna be great and it turned out to be "not so great"...now you think 23 is going to be terrible so maybe you will be pleasantly surprised and it will be great! Maybe this will be the year that you though the last would be! AND if it isnt, dont worry...God has a plan for you and you might not understand it right now but you will be more than ok...your life will be wonderful! Good things come to those who trust God! I am sure at some point in your life you will completely understand why things happed the way that they did last year...and even more than that you will see a purpose and even be thankful for it.
P.S. Your black party was lots of fun! Reading this made me remember how great that party was! :-)

Crystal Clear said...

Girl I soooo hope you are right!!!!! Especially when you say "you thought 22 was gonna be great and it turned out to be "not so great"...now you think 23 is going to be terrible so maybe you will be pleasantly surprised and it will be great! " I really really hope that's the case. Again thanks for tuning into the blog!

Mike Brennan said...

tsk tsk tsk my dear friend, Crystal...to be so young, beautiful, intelligent...AND CYNICAL !!!!. You are far too young with so many great things ahead of you to be dreading your
23rd birthday...heck, I'm so ancient I don't even remember what 23 was like...ok, so I exaggerate a bit. Let's see, just starting my professional career, moved out of my parent's home, paying back my student loans, regretting the fact that I graduated in 4 years instead of 5, missing my girlfriend who was still in college...wow, thanks so much for taking me down memory lane.
What I wouldn't give to be back in 1984...anxiety over how I was going to pay the rent, make my car payment, and still make Happy Hour by 5:00.....hmmm, how the times have changed. Now I worry about my growing waistline, high cholesterol, a dwindling portfolio (thanks George W.), a fading golf game, and a sick cat. My point is that we can choose to dwell on our fears or we can choose to embrace the opportunities that every day provides us. We never know what curves life will throw at us. In the last year, I have been very much "in like" with a wonderful lady (only to have her move away), met a great friend from Jamaica, had a health scare and a near death experience....talk about counting one's blessings !!!. Your faith in God will carry you through the tough times and make the good times even more resplendant. I have taken great pleasure in reading your blogs because I find your honesty and introspective nature to be the exception these days...a welcome break from the superficial, self absorbed conformists. Keep doing what you're doing, Crystal, You keep writing and I promise I'll keep reading. While I am not going to pretend to know everything you've experienced in life, I do hope that year 24 (sorry to rub it in, but another year has passed) is going to be very special for you.