It’s that time of year again where I think back over the last year of my life, celebrate my successes, forget my failures, take out the birthday candles, and celebrate getting older. As a kid, birthdays were all about proudly proclaiming one’s age, looking forward to all the bright and beautiful things around the corner, playing games, eating sweeties, and burying one’s face in cake. And now birthdays are this weird combination of utter excitement (I love birthdays, I won’t deny it) and some dread of ‘oh gosh, I’m this old already, what have I done with my life’.
When I was younger I always thought that when I reached my mid-twenties, I’d be settled and have it all figured out – I’d have made my millions and begun a fantastic career and would be everything I’ve always wanted to be (successful, healthy, fit, beautiful). And then, all those years just came so very suddenly and passed so very quickly, and I’m left waiting for the world to stand still for just a minute so that I can breathe and think and get back on track. And, I feel such pressure to fight harder and push more and do xyz and look back and worry about what’s past and what’s coming.
And then, in moments of silence, I’m left wondering where this pressure comes from. Perhaps subconsciously from family and friends, perhaps from the constant bombardment of media images, and, most likely, from myself, from this busy little mind I have that never switches off. When I look back at my life, things really have gone very differently to the way I had it planned. But now, honestly, I’m constantly reminded that that doesn’t even matter at all. So, I don’t have it quite figured out yet, but I’m still doing and still going, and I do it bright-eyed and fresh-faced, with a massive smile and childlike curiosity.
Just because life hasn’t turned out the way I planned, it doesn’t mean that perhaps it hasn’t turned out better. I’ve had more opportunities than I could have dreamed possible, chances to try things and study and travel the world and fall in love, and I’ve done them all with zest and passion and excitement. And to think that I’ve only lived a quarter of my life (or less, as I’m adamant on reaching 122), then, wow, I’ve had a long and exciting journey and I have an even longer and more exciting one ahead of me. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I haven’t reached all I’ve wanted to achieve, as it gives me something to fill the next 70 years with.
So, today, I tell all the pressure of achieving and the worry of not having achieved to take a long trip to Timbuktu, because I have some actual living to do – joys to feel and laughs to make and birthday cake to eat; being happy with who we are and what we have – because, honestly, that’s all we have, so we might as well make the most of it.
P.S. Happy birthday to me 🙂