The older you get, the better you get; unless you’re a banana.
~Rose Nylund from the superb show, Golden Girls
I’m quickly approaching my 31st year on the planet, and it’s making me a bit reflective.
The last year has been challenging in many ways but has also ended up being possibly the best of my life. I’ve crossed numerous things off my bucket list (e.g., swimming in the ocean for the first time including snorkeling, joining a board, starting work towards a new degree, etc.). I’ve found a comfort level to being in my own skin. I’ve embraced my thoughts and feelings rather than spending time lamenting and/or judging them. I’ve reached what I consider financial stability. I have my own place that is my space. And I am adored.
It’s crazy to look back on years that now make little to no sense. What was I thinking? What direction did I think my life was on? Why couldn’t I see how I was being treated? Why couldn’t I see how I was treating others? Why didn’t I save more? But I’m trying to also concentrate on the things I’ve accomplished. I’ve loved dearly. I’ve achieved degrees, certificates, promotions. I’ve gotten a place I love in the neighborhood I’ve always wanted to live in. I’m healthy. I spend my free time on things that truly matter to me.
I know such reflection isn’t unique for folks, especially around the turning of the years. I’m glad of that—I think it’s a part of being human to reflect on ourselves. But it’s refreshing to be able to do from a starting point of no judgement or regret. As cliché as it is, I have come to accept that I truly am a culmination of all of my experiences.
I’ve always believed and acted on a simple principle that the world doesn’t happen to me; it happens around me. And thus, I have the power to determine how I react to it and engage with it.
The thing I have honed in on over the last couple of years has been realizing that the reason I see the world this way is in how I grew up. I didn’t have much, and I didn’t have a solid support system encouraging me through my life or that I knew I could fall back on if something failed. Would my mom take me in if I lost my job or dropped out of school? Of course—even to her own detriment. But …I’m not the kind of person who sees that outcome as acceptable.
I am responsible for me and as long as I have air in my lungs and the ability to do what it takes to support myself, I will. I am a survivor, and thus I do whatever it takes to survive. But I am also a striver, which has made me push beyond mere survival to achieve every success in the comfortable, beautiful life I have today. It has given me the space to be able to give back to the organizations and causes I believe in, which truly makes it all even more worth it. And it has allowed me to give my cat a really, really good life. 🙂
So, here’s to at least 30 more years of surviving and striving—and hopefully even more than that. I am proud of who I am and where I am. I have someone by my side who supports me in so many ways and energizes my ambitions. I have friends who make me laugh and amaze me at their own accomplishments and ambitions. I have a cat who loves me and never lets my lap get cold.
Getting older is looking pretty good.