38

I have been thinking about my 38th birthday for the past 5 years. Ever since I lost my sister the day after my 32nd birthday. Here I am, on the cusp of my 37th birthday and it becomes more and more ingrained in my mind.

I have been thinking about my 38th birthday for the past 5 years. Ever since I lost my sister the day after my 32nd birthday. Here I am, on the cusp of my 37th birthday and it becomes more and more ingrained in my mind.

My sisters last year of life was her 37th year, pretty much. Her last birthday was on August 20th 2014, when she turned 38 and she passed away October 1st 2014. She didn’t even get 2 months of 38. My birthday is September 30th.

So hear I am, about to start my 37th year, the year that was her last. So, I look at my life and my mind goes to that place, the inevitable place of, “And if this was my last year, would I be satisfied with my life?”

That was one thing about my sister Mercy. She lived the fuck out of her life, because she NEVER took for granted the time she was here. She wasn’t supposed to make it past a few months old, so she lived accordingly. But the question I have for myself is…am I living accordingly?

I was born relatively healthy, especially in comparison to her.  But I have always waged a deep internal battle of dissatisfaction with who I am. That, however, is not to say that I haven’t worked on this actively and consciously.  I’ve been trying to turn this self-esteem boat around since I was 25.

My 25th year was one of my hardest, until I hit 2014 that is…but at 25 my world was flipped and I had to make a very hard choice. The choice was that being alone was better then being with someone that was destroying me. To love myself, more then the person I thought I loved. It seems really easy now, but I remember how devastating it felt at the time. But literally, walking away from that mess was the BEST decision I have made in my life. It was the first time I was my own hero, or in the words of Pretty Woman, I rescued myself.

And since then it has been a slow and steady learning and reckoning. I have learned SO MUCH about myself and my life. But to be honest, I was still never 100% happy with myself, I was still traversing rocky territory…and then I lost my mom and sister.

It threw me and it threw me hard. I didn’t revert to any of my past mistakes but I had a whole new mess to contend with and reconcile. I have walked slowly through it watching it go from unbearable to just heartbreaking to lonely. I wasn’t in a great place before I lost them, now I feel like I’m in another not so great place with even more baggage.

But what about the work? The learning and the self introspection? I can’t discount it, I know so much now about loss and pain but on the flip side I know the value of celebrating the fact that you get to live another day. Do I always remember that? No, I’m still imperfect, flawed and very human. You don’t walk away triumphant from loss one magical day, you walk away and realize you have to learn how to traverse LOTS of new, scary terrain.

When I first lost them I thought I’d reach a moment of clarity. I’d wake up one day and it would all make sense. It doesn’t work like that. The gaps in my heart will never fill, the pain I feel when I see their pictures will never go away. And I will never stop wishing that I could just talk to them one more time.

But that takes me back to 37. To this upcoming year of life I am about to live. Though I have done the studying and have been seeking knowledge and endless guidance. I must admit, there is something I haven’t been doing much of.  The work. The hard labor it would take to really begin to confront my own terrible, harsh, self opinion.

The work looks like me being disciplined with myself about eating better or going to the gym. It looks like me playing my guitar and taking voice lessons again. It looks like me doing a lot of things I currently don’t do. I have a lot of reasons and excuses why i don’t do these things. Some days life just feels to hard or draining or sad to do anything more then sit and spend another evening on my phone.

But, the question is do I want to turn 28 next year and feel exactly as I do now? Exactly as I have felt for many, many years. Maybe before I was thinner or had less bills but I have never been fully happy or accepting of who I am as a person. I love so many other people in my life unconditionally, but I cannot offer myself this same kindness. I don’t do things that make my heart happy often enough. I’m not doing the work. I even know what the goals are now, but I am still not pursuing them.

This is my New Years Eve, this is actually way more important to me then Jan 1st ever could be. Did my sister squander 37? No, my sisters crazy ass up and moved to West Virginia at 37 because that’s what my sister did! She did whatever her heart called her to do no matter how ‘effing crazy all of us thought she was. That is how she LIVED her life. She L-I-V-E-D it.  

Don’t read this as me being a fatalist and thinking my life won’t extend past 38. Though, it is not my choice when I leave this earth, I fully know that. But I just feel this is my personal call to action. This is my brain saying, “You have done so much already but now it’s time to take it all the way”.

I wanted to write this as a private journal entry to myself at first. Why? Because I feel like I have said I wanted to change so many times, and I never have. So if you don’t call your shot…no one can see you fail. But I’m calling my shot right now. This is going to be so hard, I know it is and that’s why I have been avoiding it.

But I’m not going to squander 37 or 38 or however long I am given. I’m tired of it. I want to push to be the person I truly feel I am on the inside and the person I was meant to be. I’m not even 100% sure who that is, but I know I sure as hell won’t find out unless I actually do the work.

I feel like I am dragging myself through life right now. Life is living me. And though many amazing things that have happened to me, I still feel like I’m not enough. This comes out in a lot of ways. My appearance, my actions and even more importantly my non-actions. All the things I don’t do because I fear judgement or failure.

I vow to change, and I promise you 37 will look and feel unlike any other year that came before it.

The thing they don’t tell you about “Change”

I am a self confessed self help junkie. I live for Super Soul Sunday and Brene Brown and Liz Gilbert, et al. I want to improve, change, be different, grow, etc.

I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE. I fight it, hate it, avoid it. Guess where growth comes from? *eye roll* I know this because everyone knows this. Everyone knows that to be in a different place you have to do different things. “Take the leap of faith…” and the second statement always goes something like this:

“It may take some adjustment…”

“Things may be challenging at first but…”

“You will face difficulties but..”

And eventually your change will lead you to the new life you want. Blah, blah, blah.

THIS IS WHAT THEY NEVER SAY. Even an awesome change can be HARD AND MISERABLE at first. Maybe I am an isolated case of weirdness. Maybe I’m just extra resistant to things changing. The reason why I am even bringing this up is because yesterday was a year since I left my old job and consequently started my current job a few days later.

I wrote about this a bit before, but to tell you the truth I sugarcoated it a bit. I was FUCKING MISERABLE at my old job. It was thankless, you worked your ass off and it was hardly appreciated, we were on production and it was like a factory job in an office setting. Only your mistakes were pointed out to you. They never gave you the vacation you wanted without a fight, them trying to take away my vacation was literally what led me to my current job. (Thanks guys!) HOWEVER, my supervisor and friends there were always a bright side. It was the company culture and management that made it terrible.

The only reason why I mention all that is to emphasize how miserable I was in that job. 

So, I get my new job. The hours are better, days off are better, environment is better, vacation approval is so easy I could cry, I don’t even have to CALL to call in sick, I am treated like an adult and trusted to be there and do my job without every minute of my day being watched and calculated. HEAVEN RIGHT? Nope, not at first.

I had been at my old job for 8 years. And even though I hated it and was absolutely miserable, it was what I was used to. I knew what I had to do, what my drive was like, I knew it. So I threw myself into something I didn’t know and went into an emotional tailspin. Even though it was 1000% better. And this is what the books never tell you. Even if you leave something bad, for something totally better just being IN SOMETHING NEW is enough to make you feel lost and yearning for comfort.

Those first few months, I just wanted the safety of my old terrible job. I was a boss at my old job, now I was a novice. I knew exactly what was expected of me, now I was lost. I went from banking to NPR Radio….I WAS SCARED. Terrified that I had made a horrible mistake and threw my life upside down.

CHANGE IS FUCKING HARD, EVEN AFTER YOU MAKE IT.

Having said that however, you still need to do it, BECAUSE IT IS WORTH IT. Just don’t be fooled into believing that the leap is the only hard part. The leap is just the beginning to your new trials. I wish I had known that, because when things felt SO HARD in the beginning my mind processed that as, “YOU made a terrible mistake!!!!!” Not, “This is hard now but one day it will get better…it may take months but it will get better”

I was so close so many days, in the beginning, to asking for my old job back. I’d cry all the time because it was just so new and scary. But I kept with it and now I realize going back would have been the “terrible mistake”.

It’s funny, because now a year later I am on the cusp of yet another massive change.  One that will undoubtedly throw my life upside down again for awhile. I’m, once again, scared out of my mind. But just like my current job, I know this is something I have to do for the greater good of myself. I know this will push me to grow and hopefully flourish. It’s yet another case of me entering a situation that’s probably better for me, but just brand new. (And no, I’m not changing jobs again…)

When you make a change, give it time to level out in your life. Give it time to really settle and give yourself time to adjust. If things are rough are first DO NOT take that as a sign that you made a mistake. Take that as a sign that you just did something massively different and the universe is realigning to make it fit into your world.

Please reference me to this post when I have terrified in a few months…