It’s my birthday on Saturday and I’m in a funk. Not the Bruno Mars kind, unfortunately (or fortunately?). For as long as I can remember, I seem to descend into a semi-depression in the days leading up to my birthday, no matter what’s going on in my life. It’s nothing serious, just a little more angst than usual, but it’s a downer to feel sad on your birthday!
I’m turning 33 this year, which isn’t exactly a “big year,” unless you count the people that call it their “Jesus year” (but I prefer not to equate my birthday with crucifixion…I’m not THAT depressed). But even though it’s not really a culturally significant age, 33 strikes me as…well, it’s a little bit of a threshold. Closer to 35 than 30. One step further away from your 20s. And it’s not exactly that I even want to BE younger–it’s just easy to feel, especially around birthdays and holidays, when you’re single or unhappy in other facets of your life, that you’re not where you’re “supposed” to be. You know, that sweet spot that society tells us from a young age we’re supposed to end up: married, with a baby or two, in a nice house with a backyard for your puppy to run around in. And don’t forget that good job and list of creative accomplishments.
I’m not there. And it’s okay–I don’t actually WANT a house right now, or a baby (I’d take a puppy though!). And, let’s be honest, having a husband is not always what it’s cracked up to be (or maybe that was just in my case). I DO have a good job, which I’m incredibly fortunate to have, and lots of friends, whom I’m also incredibly thankful for. I’m working on those creative accomplishments….stay tuned.
I was talking to a good friend the other day and we were lamenting this void in our lives–the way we don’t feel adequate or quite fulfilled or accomplished. But, when I really think about what I’ve done and where I’ve been, it’s not a bad set of things for 33 years. So, in an effort to beat this funk and as a little birthday present to myself (though who am I kidding I’ll probably go shopping and buy some clothes too), I thought I’d write down 33 things I’ve accomplished in my little life. And here’s to hoping there will be more to come in the years ahead!
- Learned to walk (This may seem minor, but it was a BIG DEAL for me. Apparently, I walked around on my hands and knees until I was almost two years old. I’ve always been a slow learner).
- Learned to read (I don’t remember this process, but it amazes me every time I think about it. How our brains are able to process that kind of information at such a young age. And how vital it’s been in my life!)
- Made friends in high school that I still talk to all the time, nearly 20 years later
- Won first place in my school’s Young Author’s contest in 6th grade (Yeah, that’s right, I’m still proud of that.)
- Performed a dance to Copacabana at my high school’s talent show senior year (It wasn’t a REAL dance, but it was fun and I got to wear a sparkly gold dress with feathers. We got a standing ovation, also. Just saying.)
- Asked my high school crush to dance with me at senior prom even though I was TERRIFIED and basically never saw him again (this is actually a more complicated story, but it makes me all the more happy I did it).
- Put myself through college (though I’m still paying for it and will be FOREVER–I think that’s something to be proud of!)
- Spent my junior year in Italy, speaking a language that wasn’t my own, with people I didn’t know
- Bought and paid off a new car on my own (And she’s still going strong, ten years later!)
- Put myself through graduate school (A debatable decision, but at the time, it was what I needed, and it’s led me to where I am. Although I will still be paying THESE loans until after I’m dead.)
- Created and kept up with this blog!
- Have pursued my career goals and though I don’t have my DREAM job, I have what’s pretty close to it
- Overcame my extreme lack of physical ability to go to the gym regularly and stay somewhat physically fit
- Got two tattoos!
- Gave a talk at Harvard Bookstore, in front of an actual audience
- Challenged myself to write and keep writing….I’m working on the submitting part of it. Baby steps.
- Got married. (Though this didn’t end the way I would have liked [I mean, it ended…sooo], I’m still proud of the relationship and marriage we had, in a complicated way).
- Wrote and gave the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral
- Worked my way from a marketing assistant to senior editor in seven years.
- Have built so many rewarding personal and professional relationships over the years.
- Have traveled to places I always wanted to see: London, Hawaii, Wyoming, New Mexico, California, Oregon, etc.
- Run 2 5K races…hoping to increase that number soon.
- Have thrown some pretty awesome parties.
- Survived a gut-wrenching divorce without falling apart completely or becoming bitter.
- Won first place in a story slam contest I didn’t even plan on entering.
- Am financially independent, though I’m working on that whole savings thing.
- Have edited several books I’m proud of, both professionally and semi-professionally (shout out to Rebekah Matthews!)
- Adopted Chief and loved him a lot and took good care of him.
- Cultivated my own sense of personal style.
- Learned to like beer.
- Have maintained a strong and close bond with my family (again, something I’m very lucky for!).
- Started a writing group that I’m really proud of and happy with.
- Continuing to hope and believe that things can only get better.
Ok, that was harder than I thought, to be honest. But, there’s a lot of good stuff there! I recommend making a list of stuff you’re proud of when you’re feeling down–or even if you’re not. It’s a good reminder that no matter where we are in life, we’ve all accomplished many things, and we’re works in progress.