I turned 31 yesterday.
The excitement of 30 has solidified and I am extra-reflective of last year’s celebration. The Instagramification of 30 guided much my outlook on entering a new decade of life, and as I embarked on a dream of accepting that I am not perfect (and may never be), I discovered that I can be loved even as a result of that/those imperfection(s).
This peace was very raw and real for me.
Celebrating 30 in DC, accompanied by a new soulmate and giant group of friends was a stark contrast to the celebration of 29, which consisted of me embracing, “almost-thirty,” more than, “actually-29.” Instead of being surrounded by friends and loved ones in the open air on a DC rooftop, I was adventuring in northeast China, alone in a hotel room, journaling and reflecting. A lot can happen in 24 months.
In the spirit of self-disclosure, I spent 31 on the verge of tears.
Ultimately I was okay. In fact, I really was actually great – I felt and received so much love and support from friends near and far; I was treated wonderfully at work and around campus; I have the best partner who provided a fantastic weekend last weekend to honor the big day; and I heard from people who reminded me that I was so worthy and so wonderfully me.
All of this, and yet, the almost-tears-lump still remained (please tell me you know this lump-in-the-throat feeling I am talking about?).
How did I manage to fool all of these folx into writing on my wall, tweeting at me, texting me, and calling me with cheerful and joyous messages?
Our brain can be a scary thing.
I explained some of these feelings to a dear friend of mine, the friend whose elephant moment I captured in my last post. In our conversation, I shared some of my thoughts around why I was so distracted, and why I didn’t feel good enough in this particular place and time. Here’s a bit from our conversation:
Me: “I’m seriously standing at a food place getting dinner, crying, and wondering why I feel so unworthy. And why I can’t shake that.”
Friend: “Because you are human. Flawed. Full. Imperfect. Perfect. And going through a lot of transition.”
This friend then typed out four elephant emojis, and stated, “That’s how many elephants you’re up against right now.”
Of course, I started to cry some more. Good tears.
If I (we) truly believe, “eating an elephant,” requires taking one bite at a time, four metaphorical elephants becomes a new challenge, and a new journey.
I cried not because I was down or sad or upset, I cried because my friend was right. Sometimes we don’t just have just one elephant to get through – sometimes there are many more, some bigger than others, and some to remind you that your worth is subjective, enough, and whatever you need it to be in any particular moment or time. Knowing your worth is about knowing what elephants you have in front of you, and knowing that some may be there that you didn’t even know about (“you don’t know what you don’t know,” and all of that). I didn’t need to have any major wins yesterday. I didn’t need to have a “perfect” birthday. I needed to take care of myself, my heart.
That was enough for me.
And thanks to my friend, four elephant emojis, and a reminder that sometimes the process we’re told to trust isn’t always all that trustworthy, I feel whole again.
I feel 31, deservingly so.
I feel loved, valued, and mostly worthy.
I feel more present than I have in awhile.
I feel ready for a new year of chance, hope, and humanity.
I feel unapologetically open and raw.
Another year, another learning lesson, another road ahead.
*Art and photo by Mary Prusha