Adequately Present

Figuring out who you are is supposed to get easier as you get older, isn’t it?

For a couple of days each November, my body, heart, and mind go into this quiet state of anxiety and fear. I’ve written about it for the last two years (2014’s “Six Squared” and 2015’s “37”) as a way to more publicly reflect upon and share what I’ve been processing internally. This year is no different.

Coming off last year’s birthday blog post, I embraced my single relationship status and spent some time writing about the topic during the first few months of this year. I trained for and ran a half marathon almost entirely on my own in the spring. I took a two week trip to Europe and traveled solo. While occasionally lonely endeavors, they both fit my personality type and force me to face personal challenges head on with varying levels of success.

Life continues to demand refinement and redefinition. The changes I talked about last year, at least in me, aren’t yet done. They require time and reflection.

Inadequacy for a Day

In recent years, I have preferred to keep birthday attention to low levels to avoid mass amounts of attention, but not so little that I am forgotten altogether. As a friend on Facebook commented to me a couple of years ago, it is truly a confused relationship introverts can have with their birthdays. This year’s has been overshadowed by a couple of things like it falling in the middle of the week and eight days after this year’s election whose results has consumed many of us mentally and emotionally.

But regardless of world events (and not because of), a wave of inadequacy swept over me as the work day ended and I considered the couple offers to get dinner or drinks from friends at work. I don’t feel like any celebration is something I deserve in spite of the fact that birthdays are not about earning anything. (As a good friend told me this past week, birthdays aren’t about us; they are for the people who love and care for us to celebrate our presence in their lives.)

On a regular, even daily basis, I’m quietly but actively living in such a way that is always seeking validation from others. From my job performance to photography to blogging and even running, I assume all eyes are on me to see what I can or will do next. The one day each year I don’t officially have to be “on stage” hits me like a ton of bricks because my heart knows I shouldn’t live like everything depends on me. Because it doesn’t. And because of that, I am overwhelmed by the fact I shouldn’t look at myself like this.

Being seen for simply being me when it’s not in the context of accomplishments is something I still struggle with. Maybe because it’s scary to think people wouldn’t be there if all that changed.

Quietly Figuring It Out

In the last few months, I’ve been finding myself with a desire to move back into reading more books instead of just articles online. I’m even in a couple of book clubs right now which has been challenging (because Netflix is still too easy to get sucked into) but enjoyable. No matter what book you’re reading, you’re expanding your mind to new ideas and perspectives that cannot be expressed the same way in an article posted on Medium or any other online platform.

I’m also feeling this move into more writing, including this blog but also more so back to the basics with pen and paper. It’s always been the best way for me to process life and figure myself out, starting back in high school with journaling and poetry and up until now through personal journaling and sharing on this blog.

The older I get, the more I realize I need more periods of solitude and silence from the noise before the noise succeeds in trying to define me. If I don’t block it out, I won’t hear the still small voice of wisdom and guidance. I won’t be in control of where I go and what I do. So this coming year, don’t be surprised if from time to time I seem distant or say no to activities once in awhile. It just means I’m making space to determine what matters to me right now. And I’ll be happy to chat with readers individually too. Look for more reflections on this in the coming year as I inch farther away from my mid-20s (in looks at least.) ^_^