Sunday, August 26, 2018

This Is 36

beach run

Earlier this month, I turned 36.

36 is not a milestone birthday in the traditional sense. I'm not starting a new decade, or reaching a halfway point. I'm just sort of moving along. Growing, I think, and learning, I hope, and becoming more myself than ever before. This past year felt big, though from the outside it probably looked fairly quiet. My footing became more sure, my place in the world more concrete. I cared less about so many things, and more about so many others. This shift has been going on for a while, but it never ceases to make me grateful. I guess that's the word I've been searching for - I feel grateful for each moment, each experience, each step forward. For each birthday, milestone or not.

For the last 5 years, I've marked my birthday with a digital time capsule, which has been a nice way to reflect, take stock, and move forward. Here's this year's installment.

Thirty-six is a career, rather than a job. It's nearly one year at a company where I feel valued and appreciated, where I enjoy what I do and hope to do it for a long time. It's learning both tangible and intangible skills, everything from new software to new confidence. It's the stability of a good paycheck and good benefits and a clear path forward. It's still having complicated feelings about the notion of work, because I know how rare my situation is, and how many others continue to toil at unfulfilling jobs. It's acknowledging my privilege and doing my best to advocate and vote for change, so everyone can feel good about how and what and why they're contributing.

Thirty-six is a family that is suddenly bigger. It's a week-old nephew, a brand new human I will know and love for the rest of my life. It's trying to manage complicated relationships and then learning to step back, because I can't control other people.  It's also my chosen family - friends who are also in the thick of life where shit is getting real. Professional successes, personal failures, tragic endings, new beginnings. It's the realization that our 30s are a decade of reckoning, and being glad we can reckon together.

Thirty-six is writing, still. Working on a novel, still. Feeling gratitude for the process, for the gift of always having the work in the back of my mind. It's viewing writing as the invisible scaffolding upon which everything - my routines, my experiences, my purpose - is built. Some days the writing is difficult and slow, other days it is less difficult and less slow. Thirty-six is more patience with the process and less competition with everyone else. The work will be ready when it's ready, and not a moment sooner.

Thirty-six is a narrow yet deep. It's pulling away from social media, the online spaces where I spent so much of my 20s and 30s thus far. It's sharing less and reading more, trying my hardest to focus on things that matter, at least to me. Thirty-six is understanding that the best parts of yourself don't have to be put on display or serve as proof. That just being comfortable in your own skin, with your own thoughts, is proof enough.

Thirty-six is local politics, knocking on doors and making phone calls, and hoping it makes a difference. It's trying hard to stay engaged, even as the country nosedives into chaos and buffoonery. Thirty-six is wondering how we'll look back on these years, because picturing the future is sometimes easier than dealing with the present. Then it's sighing, picking up another packet of GOTV literature, and knocking on more doors, because the present is all we've got.

Thirty-six the strongest and fastest I've ever been. It's delighting in my body and the things it can do. It's good food and plenty of moisturizer and nothing too complicated, because simple is sustainable. Health is wealth, and I've never been richer.

PS:

This was 31.
This was 32.
This was 33
This was 34
This was 35.

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