Hi. I’m 33.

by Alicia on July 22, 2015

It’s my birthday. I’m 33 today. That sounds old but doesn’t feel old. I never feel old, actually. Like, I have moments where I notice how much older I’m getting, but I never feel like I’m old in a permanent way. I don’t have any theories on that, I just think it’s how my mind works and I like me, so all of those are facts.

IMG_2186I do, like me. I think I’m great. Yep, I have pesky flaws and things I keep hidden, and things I’d like to change. But mostly I don’t think about those. Mostly I just think I’m fun, and a good listener, and an all around good person to choose to be around. I’ve changed my perception so so much in the past year and a half. I’ve been in therapy and it’s changed my life. I’ve always been an optimistic person, but therapy has made me more sure of myself. It’s given me more confidence in trusting myself, which is something I didn’t realize I was lacking, actually. I see it most plainly when my TimeHop app shows me Facebook posts from like 4 or 5 years ago, when I was desperate to prove that I loved everything so fiercely when really I was getting lost in not really liking anything enough to like myself. I didn’t, like myself. I was trying to be so many things, trying to copy so many pieces of different lifestyles around me, taking on the perceived joy of others and trying to make anything stick. At the time I wouldn’t have admitted I was mimicking, I would’ve insisted that everything was great and I was leading exactly the life I’d imagined. That’s what all my Facebook posts actually say. And ya know, maybe at the time I was leading a life I’d imagined, but it was the short version of happiness. So like, happiness in the short term vision of things I wanted to get done.

I wanted kids: check, times three. I wanted to be married: check. I wanted to own a home: check.

All before I was 30. Wow, Alicia, killer pace dude. No literally, killer pace cause it killed the voice I should’ve been listening to. Everything is slower now. I do less. From the outside you can probably count more hobbies, more things I’m involved in, more ways my life says ‘busy’. But inside my body, I take more time for me. I listen to me. I say no when it feels like I should, even with the emotional pressure to say yes for others. I take my time- with decisions, with discussions, with traffic, with my bank account, with the weeds in my garden and the dust in my house. I’m calmer, I take less personally. I try hard not to dwell. I drop a lot more when I can’t make sense of it. Not to say I don’t pick it up later, but I don’t circle around the hard stuff too many times, or for too long. I put it down and walk away. The answer will come to me. Not by forcing it. I say when I’m wrong. I try really hard to listen and not have an answer or something to contribute at the end of a sentence. I take time alone, unapologetically and I do not ask permission. I do not trade off my time for chores or expectations in return. When I get my time, when I’m feeling rebuilt, I’m happily extending myself to help others. No resentment, no tabs, no guilt.

I’m selfish. Because I’m the only person who has to spend all day every day with me. I have to like me, or this life is going to be very hard. I have to like me, or I won’t like you. I have to like me so I feel like my something to give is worth it to you. I have to like me enough to care that anyone I interact with, leaves with something worthwhile. I put me first. And that was hard, so unspeakably hard. I lost a lot. It’s hard to put things down and not know if that’s the last time you’ll hold it- figuratively or literally. It’s hard to face the emotional shrapnel of change, because it hits unexpected places, and leaves lasting impressions. The first time I really sat in the hard stuff and just…sat there, with it? Felt like I was burying myself so slowly in a dark, deep hole. I couldn’t see out, I thought ‘this is what it’s like now, awful and alone and dismal and without hope.’ And it was. It really was just like that: awful, alone and dismal and without hope. And it sucked. And I broke right down and was a shell of a human being. I felt nothing deeply, everything was too hard. And one day one thing wasn’t. And then the next week another thing was ok. Small shift backward into the void, and then one thing would go well and I’d hold it. And with therapy where I got to talk in plain language about what pissed me off and made me sad and what I was afraid of and what I really and honestly and truly wanted even when it was not what I had always said I wanted? Oh dude, power. I got some power back. I got some confidence back. I got my voice back, and a better version, like Alicia 2.0. And I like her. I really, actually do.

So in the year between my 32nd and 33rd birthdays- I changed. Slowly and deliberately changed. And I am awesome. And I don’t care if 33 is “my year”, or if this will be the year I do X, or Y, or Z or maybe nothing. I have so much on my to do list and absolutely none of it is urgent at all. Go celebrate my birthday. Take in a yoga class (if you’re local, there’s a free one at the river!). Go sit on your back porch alone with a drink of your choice. Go for a walk. Book your first therapy appointment. Write. Colour. Buy yourself dessert. Talk to yourself. Do something for you. You’ll like you, I think.

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