My birthdays always come with a certain degree of anxiety.
I've cried on most of them.
Last year, I wrote a post about 29 Things I've Learned. Those 29 things are as true as they were a year ago when I wrote them. I was a wise woman last year.
And here we are again. Another year wiser, allegedly.
I've been struggling this week. I've been ill for two weeks (which is always nice leading up to a big birthday). February was a hard month. I dealt with some online dating shenanigans that left me feeling less than enthused about the opposite sex and have highlighted the fact that I am again single on my birthday.
I woke up this morning with the sunlight shining in my window, the cat next to me in bed and I just laid there gauging my mental status. I finally just said, "Well, Birthday Girl, how do you feel today? How are you going to start your day and what is your attitude about today going to be?"
In true form, I've been focusing on the wrong things again.
Here's what I've been thinking: I'm single. I don't have a love interest in sight. I live alone with my cat. I want a family and time is ticking away. I don't have a career. My apartment is a mess. I have chronic pain. I am overweight and I'm not happy with how I look. I don't feel like I have a lot of friends or a hugely active social life and I'm a shitty friend. I don't have enough money in the bank - hell, I'm in debt if we're being honest. I haven't traveled as much as I want to. I neglect my blog, but still talk about it as if it is a big deal and the truth is that I basically just post humiliating stories about myself, things best left to a diary or therapy and crude shit on the Internet that someday will probably haunt me. My life is not what I thought it would be at all.
I could keep going. I could keep going for days if I wanted to because I'm really good at looking at things the wrong way. While all of the things I just said are true in the most basic and utterly pessimistic form... they aren't the whole truth.
Yes, I am single. Sometimes that hurts and I don't understand why I can't find someone who just wants to love me and be with me in a relationship that is healthy, happy, respectful and beautiful in all of it's imperfect perfection. That's all I want... imperfect perfection. The truth is that I've had some of the most beautiful romantic moments I could have ever asked for, moments some women will never be lucky enough to have, and I've had them with men who probably never did something so beautiful again in their lives. I danced in the street in the middle of the night before Nicholas Sparks made it a cliche. I've been sung to, spoiled and surprised.
I believe some of the men in my past loved me to the best of their ability. I've also been used and abused. I've been cheated and lied to. While I might be alone right now, at least I'm not settling. I made a decision this week to tell a man I wasn't going to stick around waiting to be his second choice. It's been a struggle not to call and say, "I change my mind, we can still be friends". But I know that we can't because I deserve more. I know my worth in ways I never did before. I am capable of love and loyalty in ways many are not and it is priceless. I know what I bring to my relationships. I know that I not only should be, but deserve to be, a priority. I might feel a little lonely when I go to bed at night by myself. The truth is that I'd rather be alone and lonely than feel alone and lonely next to someone who doesn't deserve me.
I live alone with my cat. Which sounds depressing until you realize that I am an independent woman. My apartment might be a mess, but every single thing in it is mine. I earned it. I worked for it. I paid for it. It's all mine and while it might not be the "best" stuff or the most expensive, I'm doing pretty well for myself and a lot better than some people. I've lived on my own since I was 19 and I have a lot more to show for it than some people. Not only that, but I have my shit together enough to keep not only a cat but a guinea pig and a fish alive with me.
I might not have a "career", but I have a job that I love with people who respect me and acknowledge my contributions. I have a job that allows me to pay the bills.
I have chronic pain, but it isn't killing me. Some days it gets me down, but I'm persevering. I am overweight, but I am down 36 pounds from my highest recorded weight in less than a year. 36 pounds. That's a mid-sized microwave. I'm not always in love with me. That was a harsh realization this week. I'm 30 years old and I've never been in love with myself. It's time. I'm beautiful and I'm awesome. Three decades of living with myself is too much time to live in self-hate. But the most important thing is that even with illness and chronic pain, I'm alive. I recently lost a family member to cancer and when I think about that, I don't have a legitimate reason to complain about anything because I am having another birthday.
My social life is not booming and thriving because I don't want it to. I'm just not the kind of person who likes parties and big social gatherings. I need to be more social. But, and it is a big butt, I have friends. I have people who have no obligation to me because of genetic accident who love me. I have people that I can text in the middle of the night who answer me every single time. I have people who drink with me over the phone if that is what I need to do. I have people who speak the truth about me to me when I forget. I have people who love me when I think I'm at my most unlovable.
I don't have money in the bank. While I might sleep a little easier at night if I had a little bit more, not only do I have everything I need but I have more. Sometimes, I don't have more money in the bank is because I've spent money making sure people I care about have things that they need and make them happy. Somehow, that makes it ok.
I haven't traveled as much as I would like, but I've seen things and experienced things some people will never see or do in their lifetime. I'm not well-traveled, but I am still more rich in experience than some people will ever be.
My blog. This blog. June will mark three years since starting this journey. I set out to be a foodie blogger. I set out to write about trying to live a healthier life. I set out on this journey thinking I wasn't going to get personal. Since then, I've written about my Dad. Then I talked about my struggles about being a stepmother and shared my Confessions of a Childless Wonder. I've spoken in depth about my experiences Online Dating, I talked about my issues with my weight and my eating disorder. I've talked about self harm and being in abusive relationship. One of my most read posts was about when personal insecurities lead to taco farts. At this moment, I have 4,694 people following me on Facebook, 167 followers on Instagram, and 478 Twitter Followers. This blog has 235,330 pageviews, has been accessed in over 10 different countries and has been used as a tool to teach English as a second language in Brazil. As much as I get down on myself about what I'm putting out there, apparently I'm doing something right because the people who follow me are some of the most genuine, caring and amazing people out there. I've been supported, indulged in my whining, and praised for my honesty. I've been told that something I said made a difference to someone, and somehow that makes it all worth it.
My life is absolutely nothing like what I thought it would be. Hell, when I stop and really think about it... I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting. When I stop complaining about the things I don't have, and let's be honest it isn't much, I realize I have a lot of things so many people wish they had. If turning 30 has taught me anything, it's that I'm an ungrateful and entitled jackass. For all the things I think I don't have, I might have two other things that are better. I'm dedicating my 30th year on this Earth to being grateful. I'm going to strive to be joyful, to appreciate the amazing life I have and just love myself, because damnit I deserve it.
Thanks for being here. Thanks for celebrating with me. Thanks for keeping me awesome. Thank you for humbling me. Thank you for reading my words and laughing at them and identifying with them and understanding them. Thank you for helping make this year special.