It’s my birthday today. And with this one, I definitely can no longer claim to be in my mid-twenties, it’s definitely late-twenties, and inching daily towards the big three oh that everyone anticipates so much.
And I’m not dreading it.
Today looks like it will be quite a normal day. We got home late last night after a painful fifteen hour drive home from Denmark in rain and heavy traffic. We collapsed into bed, bags still unpacked. So today will consist of laundry loads, unpacking, going to the supermarket to restock our fridge, answering the many emails I’ve left unread over the last ten days… it’s just daily life.
I may also bake a cake later (because baking is my favourite gift to myself!) and there are some presents waiting for me to open later tonight after Rasmus and I go out to a wok restaurant we’ve been eyeing up for a few weeks. But still very much a normal day. And that is perfect.
I’m making a conscious effort these last few weeks to see myself and my life as enough. I’m a bad one for piling high the expectations on my own shoulders, until so much is heaped there it is inevitable that I will topple under the weight of them. And that’s no way to live.
There are three things I have read or heard recently that have been stirring in my mind, and encouraging me to see myself as enough.
First, there was that fantastic video by Brene Brown that I posted about a few weeks ago on vulnerability. There is a striking photo towards the end of her talk of a woman with “I am enough” written across her chest that jumped out at me. Brene says, “When we work from a place that says ‘I am enough’… we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”
Then, there was something that Rachelle at Magpie Girl tweeted at the beginning of the year: “Just a reminder, this year doesn’t need to be BIG, DRAMATIC, or PERFECT. It can be jussssst right. #livewithease” (from 3 Jan 2012). It spoke to me because I have big dreams and big plans. And that is great, until I let the bigness of those dreams start to suffocate me with their incompleteness. Big plans are executed in small steps. And small steps are all that I need to focus on right now. Those small steps are just right.
The third thing that has stayed with me the last few weeks, is a blog post from Sarah over at Emerging Mummy on wanting to be fearless about aging. She’s a few years older than me and wrote beautifully about not fighting the process of getting older, but embracing it:
“There is a fearlessness about a woman aging well without bitterness, comfortable in the place that she has grown into with grace. The angst falls away, the second-guessing of my words and my feelings, my opinions, so little is written in stone and I feel even my spirit relaxing like my skin. Every year, I get more acquainted with myself and I am beginning to think that I’ll quite like growing old, I’ll wear long skirts and TOMS, I’ll laugh too loud and people will call it cackling.
Let me sit here with my pen and my coffee, paying attention to the days. It’s in the years passing that I move from wanting to “change the world” to wanting to change myself and slowly I’m beginning to understand.”
I think one of the reasons we become so afraid of growing older is that tall pile of expectations balanced awkwardly and teetering upon our shoulders. We tell ourselves, “By this point I should have done such-and-such, I should have been promoted in my job / got married / had children / launched a business / learnt to do that thing I always wanted to / travelled more / fill in your blank here…”
And that? Is destructive to my own happiness, my own sense of self-worth, my own contentment.
Having dreams and plans and goals is so important. Knowing what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life is key to leading a life that feels full and rewarding.
But fullness can look different than I imagined. And as long as I don’t give up the weight of those expectations, I will not find that fulness. Fulness starts with knowing that I am enough. And when I know for sure, deep down in my bones, in my belly, in my heart, that I am enough, then I will welcome the changing years rather than fearing them, and truly celebrate the growing numbers.
And with that, I am off to bake a cake…