19March2018 // A note from my 27 year-old self:
It’s the night before my 28th birthday and I find myself collecting a lot of thoughts. My day at work was pretty frustrating, and while reflecting on the past ~10 hours I find it ironic how parallel they are to what has been an admittedly difficult year. Professionally, socially, mentally, emotionally… even physically; in mostly every personal aspect, my twenty-seventh year was tough.
I can’t help but feel so melodramatic in writing all of this, considering the much larger and graver circumstances that so many people have gone or are going through. But I also feel we’re allowed and expected to live our own lives- which inherently involves our own feelings that we feel to our own scale. And for my birthday (I guess), I decided to get a little self-centered (in the most endearing way I could think of) and document some of my thoughts and feelings a little more thoroughly– something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
“I still find myself feeling lost… isolated. Still unsatisfied, not really with my circumstances, but just with… myself.”
From adjusting to significant lifestyle changes (personally and professionally) to dealing with recycled family tensions, a lot has happened over the past year; bad and also a lot of good. But in recounting exactly how I feel about everything, anxiety and unhappiness seem to be prominent themes. Honestly, the past few years have felt to be on this same slope.
While I’ve never been the most “confident” person (however you choose to define that), I don’t think I’ve doubted myself or been more unsatisfied with who I am and where I’m at in life than I have over the past few years. Despite making changes to my life in an effort to alter my mindset, I still find myself feeling lost… isolated. Still unsatisfied, not really with my circumstances, but just with… myself.
For a long time now I’ve felt as if I’ve literally forgotten who I am and what makes me happy. I’ve questioned- did anything, ever? I struggle to find anything remotely admirable or noteworthy in the pages of my mental autobiography. I tend to consider myself hobby-less, talentless, passionless… fairly useless. I’ve evaluated my character, my skills, and my life so scrutinously and wonder: So what? What have I done? What can I put in the highlight reel? I don’t really know.
“In questioning what I’ve ever had to offer, I’ve questioned what I ever will- and if I could ever live a life that I will be happy to have lived.”
I’m sure everyone has intensely introspective moments like this- and the best ones tend to spawn bouts of inspiration, and creation, and reinvention. But for too long I’ve let this perpetual self-performance-review pull me into an even deeper darkness. In questioning what I’ve ever had to offer, I’ve questioned what I ever will- and if I could ever live a life that I will be happy to have lived.
If I could find a single illuminated cabin along my otherwise dark train of thought, it would be the newer perspective I’ve developed over the past year or so. I’ve realized that my unhappiness is warranted, as strangely unwarranted as it may sometimes feel. That I’m not just adjusting poorly to change. I’m not acting pathetic or being ungrateful or need to count my blessings better. I’m not crazy to think that a lot of the demons haunting me- or my family- look very very familiar…
“I’m able to collect my thoughts and see my feelings for what they really are: the side effects of lifelong issues that have impacted and manipulated my mind, and, in turn, my overall quality of life.”
I’ve questioned for so long how I can feel so happy and thankful for all the amazing things in my life- the opportunities I’ve experienced, the people I’ve known and the things I’ve been so lucky to have done- but also feel so painfully sad. How I can have the greatest friends and family yet still feel crippling lonely. And I’ve come to realize I’m not just “sad”. And this isn’t a random rain cloud that’s recently formed over my head, but rather something rooted deeper within me. Something that has maybe followed me my entire life.
And now- whether it be that I’m “older”, or “wiser”, or perhaps just finally more aware- I’m able to collect my thoughts and see my feelings for what they really are: the side effects of lifelong issues that have impacted and manipulated my mind, and, in turn, my overall quality of life. In realizing how and why I feel the way I feel, I guess I’m finally starting to… feel differently.
I began this out of frustration for having a somewhat bad “birthday eve”. I thought, “how fitting?” But looking back over the last few days / weeks / whatever span of time I want to count- I’ve had what I’ll consider little, unofficial birthday celebrations. Days & nights out. Happy hours, tacos, long, meaningful conversations… Small reunions (or even just little check-ins) with people I haven’t seen or heard from in a long time. Going-away parties and engagements. Cats, dogs, and babies… So much to celebrate with (and for) the people I love. That is the ultimate birthday celebration for me.
My biggest wish for my birthday is that this next rotation around the sun brings me closer to finding sustainable happiness; nurturing my relationships, excelling in my career, and rediscovering who I am and what makes me a good person.
Tonight (though this doesn’t directly involve me) I heard from a couple people who’ve been at odds since a sort of recent familial fallout- and apparently they spent and had a really nice time together today. I know they didn’t do that just for me, but I couldn’t have asked for a more heartwarming end to a bad day and start to a birth-day. Next up on my loosely-planned birthday itinerary: dinner with my mom and siblings… together 🙂
My biggest wish for my birthday is that this next orbit around the sun brings me closer to finding sustainable happiness; nurturing my relationships, excelling in my career, and rediscovering who I am and what makes me a good person.
I’ve only begun to take the first step in what I assume will be a long and variable process, but now that I’m seeing a bit more clearly- both behind me and ahead- I finally feel like I can possibly outrun the unhappiness that’s been chasing me for so long. And eventually (maybe) get it off my trail once and for all.