Thoughts On Turning A Year Older
***Author's Note: I debated on if I should edit/revise this blog post because as I read it back to myself, I realized it was such a "downer." But, I'm not going to, because it's real. I think it still ends on a hopeful note though.***
I had a lovely birthday last week.
It was filled with well-wishes posted on my Facebook, spending time with my family and friends, seeing a musical (Waitress, it was fabulous!), free Starbucks, gifts, great food, and relaxation. I couldn't have asked for more.
Then once the (in this case, symbolic) confetti falls, the balloons are popped, and the cake is eaten, life returns to normal.
It happens this way each year. Even as a child you're so excited for your birthday to arrive and you realize that you don't feel all that different at the age of 10 as you did when you were 9. Yet, each year we think it will be different. We'll feel more mature. We'll be smarter than we were before. We'll be more relevant and important. Or we worry we'll be less relevant and not as important as we once were. We think "this will be the year I..." But not much changes. Not really. The daily routine stays the same and life goes on.
Getting older is a wonderful thing. It's a gift many people do not get to receive, and I am grateful. I lived another year, and from what I can tell I'll live for another one. It's great.
But, I still can't help but feel slightly "ho-hum" about the whole thing. It's not that I don't like my life, who I am, or how I was able to celebrate. It's all wonderful. I know I've accomplished a lot in my life and I'm blessed. As I think about it, I realize as you get older, sometimes it's more difficult to measure said accomplishments and blessings.
When you're a child, you can see your progress. With my niece for example, each month she looks different. She's doing something she hadn't before. She's growing in a new way.
When you get a little older, there's other accomplishments. You finished Kindergarten and now you move onto the 1st grade. You go from elementary school to junior high. You were on the junior varsity team, and now you're on varsity. High school is completed and then you move onto college, a job, the military, etc. You can more easily track your progress in life.
As an adult, those milestones don't come as frequently for many of us. When I think back on my life and where I was when I wrote my birthday post last year, save for my niece being born (which is more of a milestone for my sister and brother-in-law, not me), not a whole lot has changed. A lot of us don't have a lot of change year to year I don't think. Particularly if you aren't getting married and having children.
Not that I want those things or envy those who do. If I were married right now, it would be to someone who wasn't good for me, nor I for them. If I had a baby right now they would be born into not the most ideal of situations.
Career-wise though, unless you're getting promotions and new positions each year, that also is difficult to look back and think that you've accomplished something. Perhaps little projects here and there, or a challenge might come up at work you solve, but overall, things stay the same.
I've never been one for the big "five year plans" or anything like that. I remember in college our professors would ask us about where we saw ourselves in a few years. While, for the most part I did have a vision for what I saw. (Probably working at a church as a youth director, my BFFs on staff with me, either dating someone or married to another church worker.) But, I never wanted to share a concrete "this is what I want" because part of me knew that things change. Your plan doesn't always go the way you think it will and God points you in new directions.
Well... I did not stick to those plans I had for myself back in college. Thankfully.
Or when I moved back to Chicago I may have had an idea of "After a year or two I'll be writing full time" or "I'll be working in a bookshop" etc. But, I was open to possibilities and didn't have an exact plan. Just willing to let God lead me where he thought I should go.
Yet, sometimes I wonder if there is some merit to creating those five year plans. Because then maybe at least you would have something you're striving for and as each year passes. You can look back and say "I did X, Y, and Z so I can get to..."
Then again - life changes and you can't always predict where you're going to go. I can proclaim "I will have a book deal by the time I'm..." until I'm blue in the face. But honestly? It's not something I can control. (Traditional publishing takes forever. So even if I were to randomly get a book deal at a certain time, it would still be at least another year until the book hits shelves.) Even goals I create for myself that I can control, don't always work the way I think they will. I planned to have a complete draft of a novel done by spring. Then, major writers block happened, and I switched gears.
I'm not sure if I'm exactly in a rut. Because when I think about other people in my life we're all somewhat in the same type of situation. Life keeps moving on, even if we don't see the big achievements all of the time. I don't see them as being in a rut - so why would I be?
It's more of being on a straight open path and you keep moving forward. Like driving from Missouri to Chicago. It's a lot of flat land and not many landmarks. But, you're still moving forward. The only difference is that I'm not 100% sure what my destination is. I have a general idea of where I think I'm going, but there could be a turn ahead that I'm not aware of yet and I'll end up somewhere completely different.
So, I'm not sure where my mind is this year for my birthday. I don't have any particular feelings about getting older. I'm simply here, still living and still moving.
Which even that, is a gift.
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