This week, I turned 31.
This isn’t really all that significant in the giant scheme of things. People get older. That’s nature.
Yet, I was reflecting upon this prior to the party I was throwing myself in the shower. I was thinking about how many people turned 31 and will turn 31 within my current year of turning 31, and that while there will be many more people to eventually turn 31, the millions of people who turned 31 with me can’t be added to, and thus it is, essentially, just a group of people that dwindle down until there is only one of us from that year that finally dies out. Poof. No more people from 1987.
And then I was thinking about how many people I know from all of these other years, friends and family, and all of us are at different points in our lives, and lessons I’ve learned are things they haven’t necessarily learned themselves, but things they’ve learned I have yet to even consider.
And then I thought about what I’ve done this past year. We do that, I think, as humans, ponder over what we have accomplished, what we failed at, what we’re in the process of doing. That’s the bonus of having a larger brain, I guess. We think about more than hibernation for the winter.
These were my highlights of growth at my 31. Things I’ll forget and have to remember again later, probably.
Learning the art of letting go, as well as the art of when petty pays off. Seriously! I have, most of my life, been learning about letting go, and every time I thought I was doing the thing, I wasn’t really doing the thing. But I’m getting there. And what makes letting go fun is realizing what is worth the extra fucks to give. And then allowing myself a once in a blue moon moment to think petty thoughts and let those go, too. Because once I would let go of the petty thought, I’d end up thinking of an interesting solution or an idea for something I want to make or write. Although I do allow myself the occasional mutter of road rage under my breath.
My time is valuable. There is only so much of me to go around, and I only have so much money. The best thing I learned this past year is that I don’t have to feel so guilty about not being able to do everything with my friends and family due to my current funds. And it’s also allowed me to be more assertive in my job environment. I’m pretty assertive already, but I like to be helpful in every way possible. I’ve learned that I can’t always be there and I can’t do everything, and feeling guilty does nothing but make both parties feel bad. Healthy relationships understand situations when you communicate. And understand when you have to say ‘no’.
When I’m having a shitty day, I have my friends/family. And when I don’t have my friends/family, I have myself. And when I feel I don’t even have myself, I have therapy! Between work, life, and Netflix, lives are busy. So when I have a shitty day, I want to tell someone so they can say, “That sucks!” to make you feel valid in your emotions. In the end, everyone else has a life just like me and can’t always respond to me saying, “WHY DOES MY JOB DO THE THINGS IT DOES?!” So it’s up to me to say, “Yeah, it sucks today!” And whenever I don’t have the full capacity to pep talk myself into a better mood, therapy exists! And it is wonderful! Yay options!
Having a dog made me realize what true unconditional love is. When I was potty training Indigo, she woke me up around 2am one night with a whine. We raced to the first floor to the back door, but Indigo couldn’t make it and she peed all the way down the stairs, which are wooden and have no backs. I was exhausted. The summer job I had was fun but used up lots of energy running around parks with children, and the nights were filled with plenty of random wake-up calls for Indigo’s untrained bladder. I put her outside and gave myself a moment. Tired tears were forming. I sighed and grabbed paper towels and antiseptic spray. As I cleaned the staircase (and everything under the staircase), I realized that, despite being tired and irritated with the situation, I wasn’t angry. This was a puppy. She was learning bladder control and sleeping patterns. And she’d pee inside again. But I was okay with that. And that’s when I realized unconditional love was your loved one peeing on a staircase at 2am and you not being angry about it, just cleaning it up because this, too, shall pass.
Emotions are valid, and using them as tools is better and more efficient than them using me. These past two years have had at me angry and more irritable than ever in my life. My therapist told me there are two ways to deal with anger. You could either have the tidal wave of emotions tumble you through in a mess, or you could be on top of the tidal wave to allow it to pass so you could do something about what you’re angry about. And she was right. Keeping the emotion with me wasn’t allowing me to have a clear head to make a decision I could be happy about. And it would often leave me so exhausted at the end of the day I couldn’t do much but go to bed or lay on the couch to watch Netflix. I found some techniques that allowed me to feel valid in my emotions and then use that energy to create something or do something that made me feel exhausted in a productive way. Hell yes.
I’m the only expert in me, just like everyone else is the only expert in themselves. When I was in my early teens, I was so naive that the world was bliss. I was the most myself ever, and it was amazing. Then I broadened my life and got wiser and it was harder to hold onto who I was consistently. As a codependent, it can be hard to be the person you want to be when you’re also worried about being the definition of yourself other people think you are–and it can be hard to allow someone else be who they are if you have a definition of who you think they are when they most likely aren’t. This realization of me has been a relief of thought responsibility, and a huge release of control. And I’m happier for it.
If I want brownies with sparkler candles, I can make that happen and light them myself. As I turned thirty-one, I thought about what I had and what I was able to do and what I wanted. I wanted close friends, I wanted Sailor Moon, I wanted brownies instead of cake, and I wanted candles that looked like sparklers because I love fireworks. So I created an event and did just that. And when it came to the part of celebrating me, I grabbed my brownies and lit my own candles and everybody started singing. Because it’s okay to say “I AM ME” and for people to say “HELL YEAH YOU ARE” and not feel guilty about it and instead wear unicorn horns and fedora hats and laugh about Sailor Moon getting her name from a cat howling at the night sky.
I’m not even done learning anything, and I guess that’s pretty cool. I’m thirty-one and I’ve learned these things and I know I’ll have to constantly be reminding myself of them to make anything a habit, and everything I think I know will be broadened as I learn new definitions to the old things I already know.
Ain’t growing up fun?
So, these are the things I’ve learned just this year. If anyone has extra advice or life lessons or interesting things that happened to them this year, shout them out!
AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!