I have been obsessed with (terrified of?) the passing of time for as long as I can remember. But today is my birthday, and I turn 32, and I’ve always thought this age sounded alright. I worked with a guy at the psych ward who, upon turning 27, was like *fist pump* YASS CELEBRATE because apparently that’s the usual cutoff for when Schizophrenia manifests and he now considered himself in the clear.
So maybe I feel like I’m in the clear for some things. Turning 31 was weird, because that’s the age my mom was when I was born– and I was her fifth child. *cue panic attack*
I remember when I was living in a one room efficiency, about to drop out of college (for the first of many times) and freaking out because I was turning 19 and thought this meant I was getting old. A mental ticker ran through my head– you haven’t done anything with yourself yet.
It was around this time I got the weird idea that age 32 was when I’d get my shit together. I’m not sure why– maybe because it’s a mathematically pleasing number, or maybe because it felt so far away that it gave me a pass to muck around for a bit. And believe me, I spent some time wallowing in other people’s dirt.
To be fair, this mental ticker tape continues to haunt me. I assumed this was normal, but when I talk about it with other people they tell me they don’t function this way. Yet I’m over here like:
Am I doing what I want to do? Am I okay with my life? Am I fully experiencing things? Am I making daily decisions that are in line with what I want? Am I doing what I want to do? Am I okay with my life? Am I fully experiencing things? Am I making daily decisions that are in line with what I want? Am I doing what I want to do? Am I okay with my life? Am I fully experiencing things? Am I making daily decisions that are in line with what I want? Am I doing what I want to do? Am I okay with my life? Am I fully experiencing things? Am I making daily decisions that are in line with what I want?
For a long time I didn’t like the answers to those questions, which led to a steady thrum of misery that I carried with me everywhere. But now I’m like *tosses dry shampoo-speckled hair* YASS, YASS, YASS, YASS, CELEBRATE.
I know many of you will be like “Girl, stop thinking about the past and be here, be now, take a breathe, do yoga, be PRESENT.” I get that– and I promise I’m working on this aspect of myself– but I also feel like I’ve carried this rotting wound of baggage for long enough, and the only way to get rid of it is by systematically sorting through it all. So that’s kind of my thing. If I’m still alive in ten or twenty years I’ll probably read these old blog posts and shake my head at how ridiculous I was.
I should be so lucky.
I once posted on Facebook about how life seems to cycle into something completely different every 7 years– meaning, whatever’s occurred in the last seven years feels like a part of my identity, whereas anything before that is just reference material. It’s a comforting thought, because in a couple years all the time before I met Alex will drop off. I can’t wait to see what that version of myself is like.
And it’s nice to have proof that I can be deeply unhappy for back-to-back years but still find my way to a life I can’t complain about. Later tonight, Alex will give me a birthday present and I honestly don’t know what it could possibly be, because when I look at my life I can’t think of a single thing I want that I don’t already have.*
Bonus Material: The most unexpected outcome of coming to feel okay with my existence is how much it pisses some people off. Damn, guys. Lots of people would much rather you stay miserable if it’s the way they’re accustomed to knowing you. And other people will take your happiness as a personal affront, and for those people I say: Worry About Yourself.
Privilege is real. Luck, to an extent, is also real. But it’s also real that I’ve made calculated decisions and sacrifices in order to get as close as I possibly can to living a life I’m okay with, and this is largely the outcome of living a life I wasn’t okay with for a long time. So yes, a lot of odds are stacked in my favor– but I’m taking credit for the things I’ve intentionally cultivated.
And as far as getting older: If I like my current version of myself more than the past version, then I can only imagine how much more I’m going to like myself in the future. And if I can look at twenty-something Aussa and be like “you know nothing, Jon Snow,” then I’ll assume forty-something Aussa will say the same thing about current Aussa, so I’m going to go ahead and lean into that knowing-of-nothing for a bit.
Honestly, it feels good.
*Okay, I’d like a book deal. And a couch that costs more than $400. Also, a kitten.
What does YOUR mental ticker tape sound like? Anything you’d like to take credit for in your life? What has been your favorite age to be alive?
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