"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been." Madeleine L'Engle

Another year has come and gone, still I am here in this life. What a journey year 25 was. Birthdays serve as a milestone in our narrative. They are a pause to let us a take a beat, take account of all that has occurred, and reflect on who we've been + who we still want to be. We don't spend enough time taking in what we've experienced, feeling it, and mediating on it. There's something to be said about taking stock of what we've been through, the choices we've made, and our impact on the people/world around us. What does it mean to be us? Why do we matter? How are we significant? Pondering those existential crisis may be feel overwhelming at moments, but when we are able to clarify who we are, and articulate our meaning then answering those proposed questions becomes an exercise in identification rather than deciphering. What does it mean to be us? Why are we the way that we are? What's our purpose? What's the point? What are we living for, and why are we living? Birthdays become prime times to spend time grounding our existences in definitive thoughts, and beliefs, about us, and our lives. 

This year I learned some powerful lessons that brought about monumental change for me personally, but also in my interactions/emotional expenditure with others. I came to understand the importance of the following sentiments: I am not responsible for the absolution of others (before they have made effort to apologize/change); saying no, and trusting that people will survive without me; peace is a possibility if I intend for it to be; and kindness includes accountability. This year I learned to stop minimizing other people's impact, hurt, and harm. I can give it its time. I need to let people own their shame, process through their feelings, and meet them when they are prepared to give an apology that includes commitment to changes words/actions. 

I stopped making myself available to others, and prioritizing people over myself. In using no as a complete sentence, without the need to justify its usage, I found that people could and would fend for themselves. It was an exercise in forced resourcefulness for others, and added peace of mind for me. Peace became my normal state of being. I figured out how to manage my emotions, and dictate them as opposed to the other way around. No more nervousness, no more anxiousness, and no more uneasiness - just peace, contentment, and an easy-going attitude. Kindness as accountability is telling people the truth to help them recognize their impact, its consequences, and move forward. If I care about people, then I am responsibility for helping them be better. It's addressing people not avoiding conflict, being nice, or pretending all is well. Kindness can include confrontation for the betterment of the people I care for. 

For some reason birthdays seem like an Earthly judgement day. It's this day dedicated to celebrating you but also waiting to see to whom you're significant to. Who do you matter enough to; who has the bandwidth to care about you; and who puts in the effort to acknowledge your existence? With the proliferation of social media, there are many avenues for people to wish you well. When people do not  use any of them, it makes you wonder if you mattered to them at all. It's this bare minimum thing just to say happy birthday, anything beyond that sentiment is extra. If the people we want to care about us can't even remember our one day about us, nor text a couple of words, what does that say about us, and our expectations of the world? We cannot and should not have to convince others to care about us. If we have to remind people we matter, then maybe it's worth asking why we want to matter to them? We can so easily let a day of celebration become about those that are thoughtless when it comes to us, instead of relishing in all the thoughtfulness those who tried demonstrated. We need to give ourselves grace to not be impacted by others' forgetfulness and/or apathy, and people deserve sparing grace to know they need to do better.

In years past I have wished for many a thing, but nearly always for others. That's not telling the slightest. For this year I'm looking to take the advice of all those who know me best - to make this the year of me. Doing all that I can to center myself in my own life story. To be the primary character in this chapter. To be selfishly me in all the best ways. I know we're not supposed to share our wishes with the world lest they do not come to pass, but I also think it's important to make our dreams come true. A year ago I was preparing to apply to law schools, and now here I am preparing to embark on that adventure. I was able to make it happen with a legion of others supporting, counseling, and advancing me along the way. In this upcoming year I ask that all those are part of my life hold me to that wish of prioritizing me. Give me space to do so. Ask less of me. Encourage me to do me. Give me permission. Co-sign my nonsense. Champion the cause that is me. For that I will be forever grateful. Making me matter is my job, and me mattering to me is years in the making. Excited to see what I have to offer the world, others, and most of all, myself, when I am made to be in the middle. To another year of self-discovery, breakthroughs, and changes of all kinds. Here, here. X


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