Yesterday, I received a birthday reminder from Amazon. The email contained two reminders: the date of my birthday and the age I would be turning. They got the date right—March 1st (today!). However, they got the age wrong by 2 years. According to this email wizard, I am actually turning 25 not 27 today—strange, I guess the last two years didn’t occur? Have they been a dream? This thinking sounds silly—or at least it should sound silly. Yet, over the past two years, I honestly can’t recall how many times I’ve wondered this very question. Over and over, I’ve asked myself, “is this really happening?” or “when am I going to wake up and realize that life is just as it should be?”
These past two years have been filled with incredible experiences (e.g., getting married), but also a lot of struggle and painful experiences. These painful experiences always seemed to coincide with a positive experience (e.g., receiving negative news while on my honeymoon or anytime I was celebrating something joyous). This correlation made me fear positive experiences. I pulled myself into a shell of self-protection and began to play smaller. I noticed this tendency increase when I was 25. Then, as I entered my 26th year, I truly believe I lost a huge sense of self. I was motivated by fear and even with this motivation to do everything as perfectly as possible, I was never enough according to other people. I was never worthy. Over the past year, I’ve lost an incredible amount of self-confidence and have focused for the most part on moving one step at a time through incredibly difficult challenges.
Over the past two years, I lived my life according to a script created much earlier in life for how my life should unfold. I wasn’t going to give up on myself, on this beautiful script.
With time and lots of introspection, I realized that by sticking to this script, I was actually giving up on myself. This script was forcing me down a path that would shatter the parts of my life that I cherish. If the best writers rarely pen their books without multiple drafts and revisions, why shouldn’t I be doing the same with this first draft life script that no longer works?
This decision to revise my story is both liberating and unsettling. It requires shedding a part of my identity that has felt comfortable for very long. The story I’m now focused on is centered on my life today—what is important to me at this point in my life? What am I no longer willing to sacrifice or tolerate?
I don’t want to move backwards—to the me of two years ago. I don’t regret the path I took, but it’s a path that I never ever want to repeat.
I am beginning year 27 with a new book, not just a new chapter. I’ve already taken actions to make this year completely different from the last two years.
… I am celebrating my birthday with my entire family tonight in Miami. I haven’t been able to do this since my 18th birthday.
… I have moved from Boston to Miami—10 minutes away from my sister and 45 minutes away from the rest of my family. I’ve always had to take a plane to visit my family since going to college.
… I am completing my PhD in Miami and am so grateful to be entering a supportive academic community. I have no doubt that this environment is going to allow me to push my research and clinical skills to a new level.
Many things are changing for the positive as I move into this new chronological year. I am SO ready to open up this book to page one and begin writing.
Today, I choose to celebrate where I am right now and not dwell on what it has taken to get to this place.
image: found via pinterest