Yesterday was my 30th birthday. I’m not sure if I can even begin to describe all the mixed feelings that I have about turning 30. To be honest, even just a month ago I was all set for turning 30 and life was going pretty well. Life wasn’t perfect, but it was ok and I was doing the best I could at that given moment. Only it turned out to be the calm before the storm, because less than 2 weeks ago I broke up with my boyfriend. That turned my world upside down and I felt as though I was being thoroughly shaken to see what was inside me and what would fall out of me through this trial.
To be honest, I think I’m taking it surprisingly well. I have not lost myself. I have not broken down into a thousand pieces. I am still myself. It’s a testament to how much I have grown and fortified my sense of self-worth because 10 years ago when I was going through a breakup to a relationship that uncannily resembles the one I went through just now, I completely fell apart. I didn’t know what to do with myself or what to do about anything and everything and my whole world had broken. But I’m standing here right now with my two feet firmly on the ground and I know that everything will be ok. I can celebrate the beautiful moments that I had with an amazing person, and wallow through the regret and know that with time this too shall pass. When I find myself replaying what had happened to see if things would have ended differently had I done something differently, I know that in the end it wouldn’t have worked out because we were simply not meant to be. As Matt Damon said in We Bought A Zoo, “that’s just how that one went.” So I keep repeating that line to myself, and let it go a little at a time.
I have turned my focus towards self-compassion and towards other interests in my life. When I find myself stuck, I listen to podcasts and interviews with Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown. I’m not trying to avoid thinking about things altogether. I’m just trying to pace the healing process. So I try to balance the amount of time I think over all this by letting my thoughts freely wander through this breakup, by giving my heart a break sometimes and focusing on creativity. I was so glad that Kathryn recommended Big Magic at the beginning of last month, because I had loved reading Eat, Pray, Love and at this time of my life I needed something that challenged my mind.
The timing of this breakup was both a blessing and a curse, because it happened exactly a week before I was scheduled to run a 10k race for the first time of my life. It was also a week before a two-day calligraphy workshop that unfortunately overlapped with the 10k race. It was a curse because when I am going through a lot of stress and emotional turmoil I tend to eat…nothing. So while many people may curl up in front of the tv with a bucket of ice cream, I find that I am unable to stomach anything. I had stopped eating about a week before the breakup due to the amount of stress from school and my chaotic schedule, and the breakup was sort of the last nail in the coffin. I knew though, that I was determined to run in this 10k because it had been on my bucket list since 2012 and it was to take place 5 days before my 30th birthday. So I went to the clinic and got some medicine prescribed to settle my stomach enough to force down some gruel and went on to run and finish the 10k; which I will write about another day. Then that same day I went to the calligraphy workshop and studied color theory with a supportive group of friends and new acquaintances.
These days I am riding the waves that take me high and low. I look back at my 20s and it was painful but also very beautiful. I know that I did the best I could at any given moment, and although I may not have achieved as much as some, there were precious moments, exhilarating moments, and moments filled with love and passion. I have grown from someone with low self-esteem, to someone with a healthy sense of self. I know that life is meant to be hard and that there will be days when I stumble, fall, and eat dirt. But I know that it’s going to take a lot of courage to get through it all, and that I am not alone in this journey.
So yesterday for my birthday, I went to a local concert hall with my mom to listen to a piano performance. I was pleasantly surprised to also see a performance including a cello and an instrument called the bandoneon; which is sort of like an accordion, but smaller with a deeper sound. Today, I will celebrate my birthday with friends. I am thankful for all the friends that messaged me and sang me happy birthday. I am thankful for the privileged life I am living in a world full of war, poverty, and hunger. I am going forward one step at a time.
I spent a lot of my 20s not really know who I was and what I wanted to do, but now that I know who I am and a whole host of things I am curious about and wanting to explore, I want to spend my 30s making the most of what life has to offer. So good-bye 20s, and hello 30s!