I always cry on my birthday. And I really don’t even know why. And that’s hard to admit as someone as introspective as I am. I like to know myself. And I really can’t put a finger on this one.
But this year, while I probably will still cry [read as: already have] I am enjoying a different perspective.
I don’t read the warning labels on life. Through every phase, high school, college, single years, married years, baby year [eight months], I operate on instinct. No plans, little research. I get a gut feeling and I go. So when I find myself in an uncomfortable spot, I question myself. Not my plan. Why didn’t I operate more carefully? Deliberately?
Right now, in my relationship, in my family, in my career, I am living as fully expressed as I have in…ever. It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable.
But, I take solace in one fact:
I am living fully.
I used to peer over fences into other people’s lives. Looking for benchmarks. Where they were and what they’d achieved by a certain age. Even high-achieving genius-level celebrity talent. Googling birthdays is a thing for me. Doing age math, an endeavor.
2011 minus 1973 — 38, the age at which Jad Abumrad he won the MacArthur Genius Grant.
1998 minus 1972 — 26, the age at which Gwyneth Paltrow won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love.
1995 minus 1959 — 36, the age at which Ira Glass began producing This American Life.
But, now, I have the strangest feeling of camaraderie with these people. I don’t have anxiety about age and achievement.
Because I’m in it.
I am actively creating. And accurately represented.
So, the cure for the birthday blues, as I have uncovered it, seems to be not so much stepping in fully but reminding yourself that you are stepping in fully.
The compulsion to compare is human. But summoning the kindness to acknowledge your own efforts and triumphs is divine.