I am about two days past due for this birthday post, I know. I wanted to take a moment and think about what I was going to say in this post. For starters, this post is a first of its kind. For birthdays past, I have documented my feelings in my journal where I could be candid with my thoughts and vulnerable with my emotions.
As time goes on, I want to get better about documenting my birthdays if for other reason than to document a point in time where life formally advanced for me.
I haven’t been public about why my birthday is important to me. Of course, people love their birthdays because it’s time to celebrate themselves. For me, I view it as a token of achievement for existing. When I was younger and entering into adulthood, I found myself still processing my emotions from my childhood. Much of that was very hurtful. While I knew I was on the right path in life, I was a bit upset about how I always had to put up a fight to have a normal life. Eventually, those emotions came to a point and I decided I no longer wanted to live. I was saved from my plans by an unplanned invitation to lunch and the rest is history.
I quake even writing about that moment in my life because I know it leaves me up for a lot of judgment. I’ve found that even if you have the best intentions, there are a small, but ruthless, faction of people who will take what you put out publicly for healing or learning, and use it against you — in relationships, in professional settings, or character assassination.
Because my birthday is so close to the new year, it always feels like a capstone on the previous year, forcing me even further into reflection—not only about the year that has passed but also about life in general.
This year’s birthday is a real treat! With 2020 being one of the most chaotic, harrowing, rewarding, and reflective times I have ever experienced, my birth reflection this year bestows upon me a great deal of gratefulness (which I guess is par for the course on a “COVID birthday”).
First, for health. With the COVID-19 pandemic still surging and death & devastation looming around seemingly every corner, I’ve been grateful that I have remained safe and out of the grips of the coronavirus. I was fortunate to have access to testing when I needed it. I was fortunate to have good health to be able to retain my ability to put off doctor’s appointments. I was fortunate to be able to stay home and still carry out my job duties when so many were forced to work and face the virus head-on. This pandemic has really brought into perspective the importance of establishing and maintains good health and & a healthy lifestyle. Something I admittedly took for granted.
Second, for security. This I attribute mainly to job security. While our company did face pay cuts, they were ultimately precautionary and short-lived. I was, and still am, grateful to be financially secure enough. Of course, this pandemic has brought to light weaknesses in my financial planning. In times past, I have been slow in my contributions to safety net goals often allowing the stable environment around me to slow down contributions and divert a part of those funds to quality of life goals. Witnessing the financial despair around me — be it friends or the economy at large — has reaffirmed my commitment to my safety net goals and pushed me into a headspace where I want to share all that I know about personal finance (an outcome of my education that I have come to cherish time and time again).
Third, for hindsight. Before being forced into lockdown, I had pushed myself to stay busy by constantly setting goals and evaluating my time. I loved getting to the office early to get a head start before the onslaught of meetings. I also didn’t mind staying until the end of the day or sometimes later to support the team I lead and trim the fat on my tasks list. From there, I often enjoyed filling my nights and weekends with friends and social activities – pushing my schedule to capacity at times. I’ve learned that not only was I burning the candle at both ends, but I was not being mindful of what my mind, body, and spirit needed or wanted.
Undoubtedly, this birthday has been the most profound of all of them. Don’t get me wrong, other years have been great, but twenty-nine has been exacting in so many ways that it has also brought a lot of things into my line of sight. It has allowed me to renew my appreciation for so much and pushed in ways I probably would not have otherwise been pushed.
I start this year of life and time with hope, love, and a newfound sense of understanding. I hope to continue openly documenting my birthdays not only for me, but for you and for shared learning based on experiences and knowledge.
Inspiration for these birthday posts comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Matt Mullenwag, who recently also posted his birthday reflections if you want to check out his post.