Birthdays, a time for reflection, a time of thought, thinking, probably too much about anything and everything that’s happened not only this year but everything so far. It seems at this time we are in a constant state of evaluation, planning our lives instead of being inside them. In a perpetual state of constant motion or betterment, without perhaps enjoying ourselves for a minute.
This birthday feels very different. On Saturday night, 3 men violently murdered members of the British and international public. I spent yesterday thinking about whether I would receive a message telling me one of my friends had died. Today I woke up not thinking about how best I can party, or what to wear, but how lucky I am to still be here. How grateful I am for my life. And how to teach myself to enjoy it.
I thought about the things not only that I was taught. Sure, our parents teach us the basics. Eating, dressing, routine, hopefully love for the most part. But there are things, that ultimately nobody teaches you, and you learn to teach yourself. Nobody prepares you really for the pain of growing up. The joy you feel at 18, of feeling independent and carefree, is pretty short-lived. For the most part, the difficult things you have to teach yourself. You teach yourself really how to greave. For some of us we have lost friends and family too soon, and nobody prepares you for the shock and pain of seeing someone you grew up with disappear from the landscape of your life. For some of us, it teaches us to appreciate life more, that is a great lesson. And one I hope to learn sooner. For some of us, it can make the weight too hard to muster, and we look, and need, and crave other things to make us forget ourselves, and pray in some way for the carefree feeling of irresponsible thought. Nobody teaches you not too take too much, you learn the hard way, and some of us don’t. For some of us during those times, It can feel more painful to be alive. And somehow, we grow through it. Nobody teaches you how to look after yourself, how doing more means maintaining more. Nobody teaches you that the #newyearnewme might mean going to cognitive behavioral therapy. Nobody teaches you how to enjoy the things that are good for you. For some of us, self harm started at a young age, for some us were still doing it, only this time we laugh it off over brunch, dragging our broken bodies out of strangers beds and telling ourselves its how people learn to have a good time. Nobody teaches you that really, the greatest gift you might want for your 28th birthday is silence. Just the noise of the world to switch off for a second, to go to the gym without crying over images of murdered teenagers and shattered families. Nobody teaches you how to mourn for strangers. For some of us we’ve learnt that. We’ve learnt it fast. Unfortunately. We learn how to economize our love. We learn to love differently. We learn not to implode with strangers, to strategize it. The love given in our youth, if that was made into bombs it would defeat terror. Bright, and unwavering. We learn as adults, to rest, and to wait. To give love when its earned. Some of us don’t. Some of us are burnt out from the constant volcano erupting, exhausted, perhaps this year I’ll learn to lay dormant.
This year more than any I learnt that growing can be painful. Growing out of yourself. I grow into the person that accepts that maybe this year I’ll spend my birthday alone, listening to records with the sound of my rain on my window, and that’s fine. That’s just beautiful.
Because this year I feel lucky to be here.