29. Might as well be 30, right? Just as 30 might as well be 31, 31 is 32 and so on. Seems we reach a certain age and society tells us to accelerate our lives.
Before I dive in, let me give you a preview of where my perspective comes from. I am woman. I am 29. I am single. I spent my life growing up near sandy beaches in Southern California, finished college in Los Angeles, made a few trips to Europe, and by twenty-three, I had a pulsating urge to get out of my environment, however possible. I sought a removal from everything I had known, including my family and a lifestyle I could only acknowledge as privileged. I've now lived in New York almost six years where for all intents and purpose, I'd say I've 'made it' in the sense that I am proud of my accomplishments here. Without digressing to all the dirty details, I worked my first couple years, made a career change, got my Masters, and am now in a field I just fell head over heals for, education.
My uncontrollable desire to seek a life out of my comfort zone has been well achieved. Through traveling, moving to the city, focusing on my career, and despite the challenges of living in an urban conglomerate, I've hustled into making a life for myself. I've earned my place. I do what I want when I want and when I can. I don't always answer to the question why anymore. Maybe I'm not in the mood, maybe I have other plans, maybe I just don't like the prospective place or individual that wants to spend time with me. There is a difference between entitlement and being direct, know the difference. In time, I’ve begun to release myself from the need to justify all of my decisions. Guilt however is tricky as it can creep up days (or years) after the fact. I’ve come up with strategies to help mitigate my anxiety over my decisions among a number of other internal struggles. Part one was getting to know myself.
See, I'm a little cynical. I am a realist. I tend to look at things objectively, thanks to a degree in counseling. I will be the first to admit my blunt nature can be a little abrasive.
I am also a dreamer. A humanist. A lover. A caregiver. A storyteller. I love the world. I love human beings. I love the experience of purely being alive.
At my age, my mother had two kids with another on the way. Though of a different generation, I came to a point after I finished my masters where suddenly, I had this doomed idea there is a time limit for my life to actually begin. I became a little obsessed with the uncertainty. Will I get married? Am I ever going to have kids? Am I even cut out for being a parent? Am I too old to keep partying? Why haven’t I met someone? Did I make the right job choice after school? Should I move back to California? Will I always have anxiety? Will I end up alone?
Funny story, I re-downloaded tinder the other day. The app just kept crashing and my ego wouldn't let me call apple support to get help with having a dating life… Happy to say, it works now.
This stage of life has been a blessing, all the questions and unknowns included. Finally, I feel the effects of resilience so I can now contribute to the world as a grounded individual. My eyes are wide open and will never be closed again. I am no longer ignorant to the flaws in our humanities structure and I won't deny the disparity of privilege that is still very much alive within society. So, here is a small start in another new adventure and what I hope to be helpful to my readers.
It's quite an experience to live this life whose only constant is change. A life my Type A self has had to make a number of adjustments. I started practicing mindfulness and meditation just before I made my move to New York. Up until 6 months ago the practice was few and far between. Even going through a counseling degree, the idea of self-care became secondary to just trying to support myself through the internships, jobs, school, papers, and bits and pieces of a social life that became my only outlet.
When I finished my graduate program, doors opened just as much as they closed. While one would think what a great accomplishment, I should be happy, the exact opposite happened. After gaining all of this unrestricted time I began to process some life experiences that basically sent me on a spiral downward. The anxiety brought me to a breaking point, especially when it began affecting me at work in addition to my personal life and health.
There is a lot more that goes into freeing oneself from sequence of negative behaviors and mindsets. Between therapy, meditation, yoga, exercise, self help books, and basic changes in lifestyle that will be relative to everyone's situation whether it’s better eating habits, less partying, more socializing, more time outside, taking a trip, whatever becomes necessary in the process of healing.
In this short period my senses have opened beyond my imagination. The start of a spiritual awakening. Getting to know one-self, accepting what you can't change and changing what you can is empowering. The idea of change is something I've become accustomed to in the sense that I see each moment, each breath, and each step as a speckle in time I will never get back. Quite an abstract concept if you ask me. There is a fine line between living in the moment and planning for the future. The notion that change will occur is not difficult to understand. Accepting that as a reality however is a different story. Once I accepted change as the only continuous nature of my being, whether in or out of my control, was I able to set goals and plan for the future without punishing myself if I did not meet my expectations, let alone the expectations of others.
Part one of self-acceptance was acknowledging my insecurities.
Part two was finding an outlet for processing them.
Part three has been accepting feelings of discomfort, sadness, and pain as natural to the human experience.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not an expert at this. I still find myself anxious, tense and stressed when I am triggered or have a lot on my plate, but now I recognize it, I note it, I remember to breathe, pause, greet the fear, feel the pain, and move on.
Life will only ever be a work in progress if you make it that way. Life will just be life when you are mindful that each moment is new. Pause to observe yourself and your surroundings, take a deep breath and cherish how it feels to fill your lungs until you must let it go. The saying ‘it’s the little things,’ is true in the process of a humble awakening. There is comfort knowing I can recreate myself through just a mere change in thought process, and believe me, I know this is easier said than done. With only 6 months of dedicated practice I've noticed a drastic shift in my psyche and approach to situations.
Reinvention is more than your appearance, location, or activities. Training your mind to approach life with a different perspective can take years of consistency and practice. But know, there is never an “it’s too late” when it comes to self-care. There does have to be a point though where you make a choice and follow through. A decision to take care of your internal being is just as, if not more, important than your external decisions for producing a healthy lifestyle. The ripple effect thereafter allows everything else to fall into place. Change is constant. Uncertainty is normal. By accepting these concepts have I begun a process of healing with a healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy spirit. These are only some of our challenges as humans. I look forward to sharing more as I continue on this journey of exploration, love, and acceptance.