10-15 years ago, if you’d asked me where I’d be on my 29th birthday, I probably would have replied in one of two ways. I would either look cast down and my eyes would water. I would have changed the subject. The other option was to respond in a false joking tone and say, “Oh, I won’t be around. I’m going to be dead before I’m that age. Promise.”
It would be easy to assume that it was just that I didn’t want to get anywhere near 30 years old, to grow older. That wasn’t the case. There was nothing more inviting than an age where I could seek my own stability. In reality, I actually did believe I’d be dead before I ever reached 29. I remember writing in my journals that I felt like no matter what happened, I’d still die before that. It was this conscious decision I had made in order to push forward long enough to, I guess, “pay my dues”.
Frida Kahlo once said “I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim.” and in many ways, I did the same. I was reckless with myself and would risk a lot because I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t think time mattered because I had decided that mine would be limited here anyway.
As life goes on, though, many things change our paths and lead us to where we’re really meant to be. Some people do make terrible decisions, some do finish themselves off before they’ve even had the chance to love, laugh, and live, and some just die tragically young. Then there are others, like me, who no matter what we tried to accomplish a task we had set so determinedly, somehow get bumped through the murky waters of life, only to end up on the other side with a lot of doubts, guilt, worries, but a new gratitude for what they’ve got.
I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad days, where I start to fade off into that dark hole again. Instead I am saying that when I head into the dark hole, I try to remember to bring a flashlight. There are some experiences that can work like that. They become a beacon of hope for people who are exhausted from the fight that they put up just to try and stay alive long enough for the next experience, taking it one day at a time.
It’s my 29th birthday. I’m not dead and I’m not expecting to be or looking towards it. Instead, I’m looking right in front of me and seeing what’s really there.
A chance to make life fun, interesting, and sure, even a little complicated, but worth it. Life is worth it.