So, today is my birthday. I’ll be honest, this one stings a little bit. 44 years. It just seems so, well, old!
I don’t really feel old despite some of the tell-tale signs. I typically go to bed early and I wake up early. I don’t nap – my anxiety prevents it. I have more grey hair than ever before. And I see weird unwelcome changes in my face. Photos don’t look like me I remember. But, I’m extremely happy.
Plus, all of that is just external and all that really matters is the internal stuff. Right?
So yesterday I walked around my Buenos Aires neighborhood in the rain like a mad woman. Trying to settle the panic rising in my chest. What is happening to me? What is my problem? Buying shirts I didn’t need at a 2 for 1 sale helped a bit. So did buying mascara and rose hips tonic at a pharmacy.
But there’s nothing stopping 44. The rose hips can’t fix all of my age lines overnight.
However, beyond aging yet one more year, this birthday represents so much more. One year ago, I quit my job. I had already given up being a lawyer. After 12 years, I was unhappy and stressed and ready to try my hand at other things. And so I did. Then we had a chance at doing something a bit off the wall. That is, quit our jobs, sell everything and just take off. And so we did.
On my birthday last year we climbed the highest point in Texas. A fitting beginning to our adventure around the world.
It’s hard to describe what this year has been like. It’s been fun and easy, while difficult and scary at the same time. It turns out that it’s not so easy to live out of a backpack for a year. I reached limits I didn’t know existed. I miss some creature comforts. So today I treated myself to a facial, and even though I didn’t really understand the esthetician, I think she asked me if I ever wash my face. The honest answer is generally no – I don’t usually have soap. We’re pretty picky what we spend our money on these days – food and shelter are at the top of the list.
I have learned so much about myself this past year. Most recently I had to remind myself that I need to take an active role in my life. I want to determine my path. I want to determine what comes next. You might think that doesn’t make sense since it seems I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And I am. But at the same time, I feel a voice inside trying to tell me something. And I’m doing everything I know to listen to this voice. I’ve only collected regrets when I’ve ignored this voice in the past.
I read this quote today and I know it fits into my puzzle: “You pay your dues when you finally come to that realization that something is missing.”
One year ago I think I realized that I had been missing from my own life. Not anymore.
Our 40s are supposed to be those magical years when self-consciousness falls away and you don’t care what others think. After 44 years, I have not found that magical place quite yet. I still worry what others think – I’m worrying right now what you will think about this blog.
But, I know a few things for sure. I know that I know myself better now after 44 years than ever before. I know how not to make tragic mistakes. I know what makes me happy. And most importantly, this past year only confirmed that I made all of the right choices that brought me to where I am right now.