This week I celebrate another anniversary of my 29th birthday. I laughingly started celebrating the anniversary of my 29th birthday when faced with the fact I was going to turn 30. My age is forever listed as 29 plus. In reality I was not really that apprehensive about turning 30. I mean really my husband is 15 years older than me. I will always be young compared to him, right? Most birthdays are days that I look forward to. Whether they are spent relaxing at a spa or surrounded by family and friends, they are always a day that I look forward to celebrating. But this year was different. I’m not sure why this year but this year my birthday is weighing on me.
Being that my birthday was weighing on me, as I usually do when things start bothering me, I started analyzing. I started to think what I was really upset about…okay so getting old in some respects sucks. I am finding that bones creek and crack more and I am sore when I get out of bed. I find myself groaning a lot more than I ever did. For the most part, no one cards me anymore…(really this was the hardest aspect of getting old). I’m starting to hear words like annual mammogram and colonoscopy and phrases like, “When you reach your age…” and the dreaded word “Ma’am” that are just plain disturbing. Things don’t work like they use to work and I don’t have nearly the energy that I use to have. (So I’m supposed to grow old gracefully…yeah right, I’ll keep kicking and screaming my way in to old age thank you very much…)
But seriously there are also some really cool things about getting older too. I truly do believe we become wiser as we get older. The phrase “it is better to remain silent and thought the fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt” is one often, though not always, learned with age. I have vivid memories of ridiculous things I have said in my past that truly revealed my ignorance in a subject. Age has taught me God gave us two ears and one mouth as we should use each proportionately. In my youth, I may have been quick to speak and quick to judge. Today, I hope and pray I listen more often than I speak and therefore cause less hurt with what I say and more importantly say what I really mean to say, when it needs to be said.
The old saying of “don’t sweat the small stuff” becomes more relevant. Hopefully now I am better at choosing my battles than I was when I was younger. I hope I let the “small stuff” slide off and only take up a fight when needed. When I was younger, I would throw my gauntlet down on any injustice or area that ruffled my feathers. It often meant my energy was spent on things that were not really that important. Energy that could have been spent in better places.
Paychecks generally go up when you get older. Minimum wage increases to a real paycheck and I was able to move from a little girl’s clearance sale finds to a big girl wardrobe. How exciting was it to buy my first real designer purse and clothing that was actually made of real fibers. It was a real confidence boost. Okay…so buying shoes has not changed since I was a younger woman…still my chosen way to spend my paycheck! However, I will say quality has replaced quantity.
Though I often say that I am not learning patience, I actually have learned patience as I have gotten older. The frustration of traffic, being cut off and the need to speed everywhere has waned…though not completely on the speeding part. Hand in hand with patience, tolerance has been God’s grace with age. There are a lot of people in this world and I have come to realize that regardless of who they are, there are two things that remain true: 1. We are all children of God, therefore we are all the same, and 2. we all have different experiences that shape who we are, therefore we are all different and deserving of tolerance and understanding.
I hope with age I have been grown a more compassionate heart. It is my belief that as I have gotten older and have begun to focus more on others, I hope that my heart has become more open to their problems and their pains. And with it, my resolve to help and be there for others.
There are so many things, good and bad that come with age, but that wasn’t really what was bothering me. As I reflected on the day, and getting another year older, it really was not that getting older sucked or the things that age did to your body that were bothering me. In fact, when I was honest with myself, other than getting carded in my 20s and the occasional body pain that I can’t seem to explain by any other means than age, I really don’t mind having left my teens and twenties behind. So, I delved further.
I guess what was bothering me ultimately is the day itself. What use to be a special day, something I looked forward to and the specialness of the celebration around my day, had become just another day in my mind. A day to get through, to cross of my list and to move on as if it meant nothing. And this feeling was all my own. It wasn’t that my husband wasn’t trying to make it feel special or the rest of my family. It was me that had turned it into another day, all in my mind. And I’m not sure why. Could it be the still extra busy life I am trying to learn and juggle that made it a day that just went away? And more importantly…When did that happen? When did my birthday become something that didn’t deserve to be celebrated in my mind? As children, we all know when our birthdays are and heaven help you if you forget a child’s birthday. And how could you! They proclaim it every chance they get. “Do you know what today is? It’s my birthday!” Who has not heard that out of a child’s mouth at some point in their life?
And right that they should proclaim it. Birthdays are a reminder of the unique and wonderful beings that God created and that you are special. There are no two people alike. Even identical twins are unique beings of God’s creation and as a unique individual has a unique and special contribution to make to this world. And their birth should be celebrated!
When did I forget that? How do I embrace that once again? Have any of you felt that way? Is this a sad normal phenomenon or is this just a reflection of life being so busy? Am I alone in this feeling or are there others that have felt this way? What did you do to get that special feeling back? How do you remember that you are a unique and special being, one that only one this world will know?