I was not ready for what this year became. I suspect you, reader, were not either.
This year was hard. Though like many others I tried to make do with what was dealt. I spent more time alone than usual and wrote about feeling the need to be cared for as a single person. Travel was mostly nonexistent, save for one coordinated trip to the South for a week in June to see & quarantine with close friends. The April marathon I trained for was canceled. Yet I continued running throughout the year and almost logged 700 miles. Neighbor Bob and I masked up and replaced the basement and stair tile. I completed a year at my not-so-new job. I also made some new friends while nerding out over stationary. So not all was lost.
However, I also found 4 gray hairs. That is not acceptable. Thanks a lot, 2020!
It adds up to something much more significant than expected
“Every moment has led up to this.”
– Every movie protagonist as they get ready to face their biggest foe
Change adds up
Over the last couple of years, on this blog I have examined questions about identity discovery, living in a space with less built-in promises, and on reliance and trust on people outside myself. Offline in the real world, I’ve been quietly preparing my mind and heart for a big change. What that change would be was very much unknown, but it’s clear through what I’ve felt compelled to share that the status quo wasn’t good enough anymore. In the process, I couldn’t see what that would add up to. I don’t have the final answer yet; I’m actually still doing the math and formula calculations, scratching out notes and numbers because I write in pen and never believed in doing my math homework with a pencil.
Every year around the sun brings with it a multitude of opportunities, but the most important one to me these last few years is taking the time to understand myself better, explore those things that I connect with, what doesn’t, and express what’s on my mind and heart through outlets like this blog. Intentionally or not, I have often found myself alone on the journey which provides (more than?) ample time to think, reflect, overthink, and act. In a world that creates so much noise, the solitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
As it’s been in previous years, I struggle with finding ways to summarize a whole year of my life into one post. What parts should I share about publicly on this platform? What am I comfortable sharing? Can I be vulnerable enough to go deeper than I have before? Is there anything about my life that is useful to others? Was there a common thread tying everything together?
Oh, November. It’s that month of the year that brings the heart of autumn, football, and Thanksgiving. Its mere arrival has wreaked havoc on my heart and mind in the last few years as I have grappled with … myself. However, the 2017 version of November has brought with it less trepidation and fear of its arrival and subsequent storm of internal emotions. The month itself was good, highlighted by time with good friends to celebrate
This year, in its entirety, was hard, perhaps harder than I gave it credit for in the small moments. In retrospect, I wonder if I tried to do too much at once at the expense of stretching myself in too many directions and getting distracted by all the possibilities and what if’s. Last year, I said I wanted to “quietly figure it out.” I have spent fair amounts of time on my own, reading, and journaling. But have I come to any conclusions or new revelations? I’m not so sure.
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.
Prime Numbers are interesting and fascinating things in the world of mathematics. According to mathisfun.com, “A Prime Number can be divided evenly only by 1 or itself.” This perhaps is the greatest way to represent how I see and process myself at this point in life right now as I enter a year defined as a prime number.
November has become a difficult month for me. Not only does it mean Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season that follows it, but it also means my birthday “season” has arrived and turning another year older. However, it doesn’t mean I need to look any older. In the last couple years, that usually also means a very quiet, introspective, and solitary season.
Birthdays, much like everything else in America, has turned into an affair that calls to be celebrated for far longer than what the calendar shows – one day. People have “birthday weeks,” “birthday months,” or “birthday seasons” to keep the party going. I don’t get it. Why do people want so much attention for just being themselves? I don’t really want it, but I don’t want to be completely forgotten either. The last few years, the days leading up to and my actual birthday are internally dark. Who will remember? Will anyone (parents and best friend excluded)?
I’ve had a few particularly emotional birthday-days that have brought intense feelings of loneliness and disconnect in my time because I felt people weren’t there in any real capacity. I’ve never been one to plan my own party. Nor do I want to be the center of attention. If friends want to coordinate a party, I’ll probably do it. As years go by, though, people have other life commitments like spouses, kids, jobs, etc. I get it. I assume they’re all too busy for me, so I make due on my own. In my head, I’ve figured this must be part of being single when most of your community isn’t. My last two actual birthdays I’ve had dinner alone. While not altogether the worst, perhaps it wasn’t the best either.
Why are my birthdays such internally difficult affairs? Why do I feel such loss at the thought of people forgetting about it and simultaneously cringe when I get a “Happy birthday!” greeting or Facebook wall post? A birthday greeting isn’t something that’s earned, but a simple acknowledgment of my existence and nothing else. Why not want any focus on me for me?
Maybe that’s (a small) part of the problem. Throughout the year, I constantly feel like I’m having to prove my worth wherever I go and with whatever I do. Then when my birthday comes, it requires nothing of me, and it partially freaks me out. I’m just supposed to “be, ” and that’s enough for a day. Maybe that’s supposed to be enough every day.
So goes another year and another birthday, partially unscathed. I hope with this new year brings more wisdom and being more OK with getting older and celebrating life.
*This post is not intended to invoke any belated happy birthdays or anything similar.