As a kid, birthdays were great! Cake, pizza, presents, all the attention I wanted. March 3rd was all about me and how great I am. What a time to be alive! But after high school, I wanted to go back to my infant days and just sleep through March 3rd every year. My birthdays went unnoticed, uncelebrated, overlooked, and pushed aside by people I thought cared about me. This caused my attitude about my birthday to turn a bit sour. I mean, nobody else cared, why should I?
Thankfully, towards the end of college, I welcomed people into my life that have shown that they care about me. Not just on birthdays but every day. However, this year, while I’m not feeling like a Granny Smith Apple, I’m not bubbling with excitement either.
Yes, my friends are very correct about how this is one of my best years to date. I’m finally settling into my desired career at a great school that has a great staff and great students. I’m in a loving, supportive relationship. I’m going back to school in a few months to pursue a second degree. On paper, you could say that I’m in a good space in my adult life. These are all positives right? I should be going into my 26th birthday joyful and enthusiastic. But I’m not and I think I finally know why.
I’ve been mulling over what the hell my birthday post would be about for bit. And since that conversation shown above, I’ve been extra focused on trying to put my finger on why I feel this way. I’ve asked myself what my problem is over and over just to hear my inner self reply, “girl, who knows!” Finally, I think I’ve got it. And it only came to me a few moments ago while drafting up this piece and stumbling upon an over looked connection between Shonda Rhimes’s new book The Year of Yes and my current state of being.
You ready? Ok. So, I’ve got all of these great things happening for me right? Here’s what’s got me down though. I’m simply not enjoying life. I’m not LIVING. I’m not DOING anything. I’m merely going through the motions and doing what I’ve convinced myself I have to do. I’m existing. I’m taking up space. That’s a pretty wack realization, right? And while reading Rhimes’s book, while i was thoroughly entertained, I didn’t notice how much i related to what she was saying. I just thought the woman was being a great writer. But really, she was secretly exposing my own personal issues through wit, Beyonce references and jokes about red wine that are funny because they’re true. I mean, that woman is GOOD!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy as hell to have found a better job in a field of work that I love. The education system isn’t perfect and needs A LOT of work but I’m happy to make lasting impressions on the ones that have our future in their tiny, germy, peanut butter and jelly covered hands. Doubling my monthly income is pretty fucking sweet too, am I right? And being in a relationship where I know I’m being loved and supported how I know I deserve to be loved and supported is wonderful. My guy is a gem. Going back to school and receiving financial help that won’t leave me in even more debt than undergrad did is a fucking win too. But what have I actually done in these past few years? What has been memorable about my life? I can’t think of anything. Nothing. Zilch. Khleo Thomas in Holes.
Every day, Monday through Friday, I wake up at 4 AM to make my commute to work. Every day at 4:30 PM, I commute back home. I’m in bed and asleep by 9:00 PM so that I can do it all over again. My weekends consist of falling sleep early, writing lesson plans and loafing around in bed alone or with my boyfriend. Occasionally I go get my hair and nails done. And every blue moon I’ll go be social. But a majority of the time, I’m not doing shit. I am bored out of my fucking mind.
I don’t see anyone. I barely talk to anyone. I don’t do epic shit. I don’t travel internationally. Not even a domestic flight. I’m still living at home. I’m still poor (thank you student loans). I’m just here going to work and going to sleep. And while I usually wear my laziness as a badge of honor as a means to justify my selfishness, this feels like I’m wasting my youth.
So now that I know what my problem is, how do I fix it? Do I just get up and go? I have a feeling the answer is yes. Yes, book that flight. Yes, go to that restaurant. Yes, visit that museum. Even if you go alone, yes. Do that thing. Do all those things. Live, bitch! Live!
But, I’m weirdly afraid to.
And so I don’t book that flight. I don’t go to that restaurant. I don’t visit any museums. I don’t do anything. I do nothing. I go to work and I go to sleep. I just exist. Take up space. Just like I did last year and the years before that.
But I don’t want that for myself anymore. I want to stop being afraid to live and stop making excuses as to why I can’t do something. I don’t want to go into 27 still existing. I want to have done more by the end of this year. I want to have grown more in ways that a larger paycheck, and a job can’t help me grow (although I am very supportive of those things growing all they want). I want real life experiences. I want to be like Shonda Rhimes. I want to start saying, “yes.”
So I’m making 26 my year of yes. I’m done merely existing and taking up space. I’m going to go out and do things, see things, eat things. I’m booking that domestic flight and saving for that international one (ya girl is still poor. Let’s not get crazy). I’m going to that museum or gallery. Alone or with company. I’m saying yes. Yes to 26 and counting.