Or so I’ve been told, as I cringe a bit on the eve of my 32nd birthday. I’m sure that some of my older readers just rolled their eyes at that. I know, I know. 32 is not that old. It’s just that, well…this birthday is bugging me a bit. I wish it didn’t. I mean, the alternative to birthdays is not that pleasant to think about, you know?
No, it’s not the birthday or the number…it’s the feeling that I should have done more, or been more, or achieved more by this age. It’s the comparison to those around me. As the engagements and pregnancies and birth announcements triple daily, it’s the assumption that my 32 is worse than theirs because I’m not married, or a mother. I’m not in my dream job, or writing my novel.
I’m not something I “should be.”
I feel like I’ve written this post before. The post on the dangers of comparing ourselves to others. But let’s be honest…it’s incredibly difficult not to. We live in an age of constant comparison. And if we let it get to us, and fail to see our own strengths and gifts, we will continue to cringe at the idea of another birthday.
This year has been tough for me. I’ve said that before. But today, as I reflect on another year passed, I look back and realize how much I have done. I started writing this blog again because I felt like I wanted to change the way that women talk to each other, and how they talk to themselves. I want the conversation to change from superficial and insincere, to genuine and healthy. Physically, mentally and emotionally, it’s time to change the conversation and be honest with ourselves and each other about what’s really going on, and what we really face every day. And if I believe that, which I do, then it has to start with me.
And when I think about that, I realize that my biggest strength and accomplishment this year is owning my own story. And perhaps it’s time to share that with you, my loyal readers. 12 years ago, while in college, I was assaulted by a man on campus. Words I never thought I’d say publicly, after the trial. Yes, there was a trial, and yes he did go to jail. And truthfully, I’m a bit terrified to write those words, because the topic is still so taboo. But I’m not alone. Far from it. And something about today, on the eve of another birthday, I feel like this is the truth I need to share. When I get down on myself, and start comparing my life to others, I have to take a step back and remind myself that there is no comparison. That to try to compare two people, and two different paths or life journeys, it is always going to be apples to oranges. Each and every one of us is on a different trail, and coming from a different place.
My truth, my life, and my health were significantly impacted by this one event that happened 12 years ago. And as I work to reclaim my story, and find my way, I realize how much my honesty and my story can help others. And then I stop cringing, and I start to look forward to my 33rd year. Because I realize that that one event doesn’t define me. No single event does. In fact, I believe we can decide what defines us, and what doesn’t. We can choose how we want to be, and how we want to move forward. Easier said than done. I know. But saying it out loud is a tremendous start.
So, happy birthday to me…and my fellow April 8th babies…there are quite a few of us. Cheers to a healthy, happy and wise new year.