I'm not exactly sure what it is about birthdays. Every year, without fail, I cry. It's really dumb, I know. Your birthday is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be the day you can relish in getting attention, opening presents, doing whatever you want, and spending time with all your favorite people. That's what the optimists say, at least.
However, my inner pessimist still inevitably creeps out at some point during the day (okay fine, very early in the day) and reminds me that there's something deeply saddening about a birthday. It's an annual reminder of our own mortality, a time where you are forced to take a look at what you've accomplished thus far and put it somewhere in the context of your entire life. Am I 26% through my allotted time? Or, is that overly optimistic, and it's more like 40%? Should I be 26% of the way to where I want to be? I should probably be a lot further than that, but who knows... where do I want to be anyway? Clearly this is a dangerous path, and it's very easy to get lost, so I try to stop myself from falling into this existential abyss.
In the past, I have tried to pinpoint exactly what is tangibly bothering me so I can use it as a pivot point for improving my state of being. Two years ago, it was a sense of frustration and disappointment in myself -- I felt that I was seriously dissatisfied with my lifestyle and had recently gained the awareness necessary to vocalize it, but not yet empowered to do anything about it. I had accomplished nothing, I didn't know where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to leave behind. One year ago, it was a sense of trepidation and abandonment, with my boyfriend recently leaving me behind to move halfway across the world. Would I be able to be happy without him there? Would my friendships be the same without a boyfriend in the picture? Would we be able to survive the distance? I was full of questions and self hatred for being so upset about a guy.
Anyway, those things seem to have at least tentatively worked out and yet this year is no different. So, I'm out to figure out what the hell it is that has me so upset, and whether or not I can actually do something about it. My current hypothesis is that it is a nagging sense of disconnection. My family is so far away, scattered across the U.S. Usually I have the privilege of sharing my birthday with Father's Day, so it seems like a time we should all be together. My friends are enjoying another beautiful and romantic New York summer. I'm at a point with General Assembly where things are going well, but it's also up to me to take it to the next level. We still are not a permanent fixture in Hong Kong, and if I were to leave tomorrow and cancel everything, I am not sure anyone would notice. We are still too new to have impacted anyone's life in the way that I believe we can, and hope that we do. I have gotten started, indeed, but I'm not quite anywhere yet.
Alright, hold on. The optimist is fighting back. I won't let myself mope for too long. I may be far away, but there's a hell of a lot of people that care enough to say 'Happy Birthday'. And I'm here, right? In Hong Kong? Where I have wanted to be for so long. I've traveled a long way, but that also means I've come so far. I'm on a journey, not sure where I'll end up, but learning a shit ton along the way, and isn't that what matters?
Just like I've written before, maybe I really can choose to enjoy this day. Maybe my approach has been all wrong. Instead of trying to silence the pessimist, I need to silence the voice inside me that is telling the pessimist to shut the fuck up. I need to silence the voice that is telling me I'm a total brat who can't just accept the joys of a birthday and have to make it so much more complicated than that for no reason at all. I acknowledge that I'm concerned about all of this because I care, because I want to make the most out of my life, because I wish I could be everywhere with everyone I care about, all the time, because I love my family and I want to be close to them. Those are only the best of intentions, and that's all okay.
So, happy birthday to me. I'm going to try to be nicer to myself today, and instead of trying to force myself to enjoy, I'll allow myself to enjoy. It may sound like semantics, but it's a big difference.
P. S. I'd like to add that this is one of those blogposts that I am very tempted to 'Save as draft' and never publish. It's obviously quite personal and certainly doesn't portray me in the best light. But I'm going to publish it anyway, because I want to share the ups and the downs of this journey. It's not perfect, and neither am I, so... might as well put it all out there in the hopes that someone will read it someday and it will resonate with them.