“Here I am now looking at 30 and I got so much to say...
I’ve reached a fork in the road of my life
where aint nothing gonna happen unless I decide
And I choose to be the best that I can be
I choose to be authentic in everything I do
I choose! –India Arie
I approach each birthday with fear and trembling. I don’t like getting older. I have even joked that birthdays are morbid because they document how close you are to dying. It also seems that as soon as I have mastered one age---figured out what is age-appropriate, learned the lessons of that year, and managed to thrive—then, in comes a new year with new challenges and new expectations. This year I am facing a new decade!!!!!!! I’ve been in my twenties for 10 years. I got used to being in my 20’s. I was in denial that I would one day NOT be in my 20’s. I know many people who can relate.
I have some thoughts on coping with a new year or new decade:
1) Stop Counting. Last birthday I ran into a young lady when I was out shopping. During our conversation, I asked her how old she was. She didn’t know…at least not immediately. She said, "I’m either 32 or 33 or maybe even younger." I looked at her like she had gone mad. I watched amazed as she tried to calculate her age from her birth year—but she could not readily remember the year she was born. Then she said that she stopped counting her age. She just lived her life daily as best she could and never worried about how old or young she was. She found that this philosophy made her a much happier person. Maybe all the hoopla the western world makes over birthdays is actually damaging. Maybe even as damaging as our obsession with youth.
2) You are really only as old as you feel. Cliché. I know. I know, but there is so much truth to the saying. I still feel 25. In fact, when someone ask me my age I say “25” and use finger quotes. Then I smile and change the subject. I still feel young. I still have plenty of energy. And I have made the decision to become better as life goes on, instead of bitter.
3) Do something new. Gain new insights, new experiences. When I turned 26 I went on my first Caribbean cruise. Now cruising is my obsession. Try to find something new. A new food—I’m a fastidious eater but I try to introduce myself to a new food as often as I can. A new hairstyle—I got Havana twist this year and (gasp) I learned to wear make up. A new goal--I used to be a lot more uptight, but I have decided to let a lot of things roll off my back. “My past don’t dictate who I am. I choose.”
4) Age aint nothing but a number—albeit a somewhat important number. When I am at work, I strive to act my age. Now that I work with young children, I find that accessing my inner child makes for a better day. In my private life I act whatever age I feel like. After I type this I’m plugging up my Nintendo and playing an old school video game. Yesterday I ate cotton candy and stayed up past midnight. I sometimes skip when I am excited, and it is not beyond me to do a happy dance when I am delighted with something. Some people think I’m much younger than what I am. Could it be that what is mistaken for immaturity is actually exuberance! When people look at me they often guess that I’m in my early to mid 20’s, but after we have conversed and they get a hint of my wisdom and ingrained-in-me-to-the-core common sense they guess my age rather easily. We are all complex people. We have many layers and sides to us…I will not let the coming year define who I am!
5) Do not lose your sense of humor. Humor is a powerful coping mechanism. The difference between someone who has a break down from the trials and pure hell that can be life, and the person who thrives is often a heck of a since of humor. Find the irony in maddening situations. Take yourself out of the situation. What would you say if you were a casual observer and the situation were happening to someone else?
6) Do not take yourself too seriously. When I was 23 I took myself way too seriously. I felt my every opinion needed to be heard and heard loudly! As a result I often alienated people. My world is a mad one. Between having a crazy supervisor, a demanding job, the government breathing down my neck because of my student loans, and a seemingly endless amount of plumbing problems, I could drive myself crazy. Now I laugh. I pay my student loans and joke that I “work for the government.” When the garbage disposal went up this week, I rolled my eyes and then thought of all the crap I poured down there over the years. “I’m surprised it made it this long,” I concluded nonchalantly. My opinions are just as valid now as they were when I was 23, but I do not need to “impale” people with them. I can laugh at my mistakes more easily. I know myself a lot better. I feel increasingly more comfortable with who I am as a person.
7) Give someone else a “birthday gift.” When we say birthday gift we often think of what someone will purchase for us, but what if we flipped the script! What if we decided to be the giver on our birthday instead of the recipient? Find something small to do for someone else on your birthday. You’ll feel better. I guarantee it.
Finally, what do I want for my birthday?
If you want to give me a birthday present here are three things you can do for me.
If you have other suggestions on coping with getting older, please leave them in the comment section below.
Happy New Year everybody!