Tomorrow is my 29th birthday.
This is the first year I’m a little freaked out about my birthday. I know, I know. You’re rolling your eyes, thinking “Get over yourself, Yuloo. You’re still SO young.” I get it. But this is the first year where I can feel myself getting older. Both physically and mentally. And where I can’t help but wonder how, exactly, I arrived at where I am now.
Everyone has dreams and ideas about the future or how their life will look at a certain age, right? We set these expectations for ourselves based on how our parents lives unfolded, societal pressure, or maybe even something we saw in a movie. I had grand visions for how I thought my life would look at this age, and it isn’t exactly what I had envisioned. I don’t want you to think I don’t recognize how pretty damn good it is; I’m healthy, have a roof over my head, and people who love and support me. But life has taken a few turns off the path I dreamed up, and I’m learning to be okay with that. I’ve had to shift my perspective, and it’s been one of life’s biggest lessons.
There were a lot of curve balls in my 28th year; quite simply a lot of life happened. Tons of change, uncertainty, heartache, and uncomfortable moments. Whether or not I wanted it, life decided it needed to happen. And for whatever reason, all at once (or so it felt and seemed).
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this past year has been that you can’t control what happens to you. We are vulnerable humans, susceptible to pain. As much as you have the need or want to control everything, you can’t. You can’t anticipate life happening. Things happen for unknown reasons. And at what point do we let go of expectations and just let God, fate, or whatever it is you believe in take it’s course?
One of the toughest, and perhaps saddest realizations I’ve had this year is that at some point, everyone in your life is going to hurt you. Your parents, your best friend, your partner. And not because they are trying to hurt you, but because we’re all just navigating through life, trying to do just that: live. Hopefully by putting our best foot forward. But the expectations we place on others are only going to come back around and bite us when they don’t live up to those expectations. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have standards for people, because you should. You should never allow anyone to bring you down in ways you won’t or can’t tolerate. But at the end of the day, you have to choose the people around you who you are willing to accept disappointment from. Once you realize that everyone at some point is going to disappoint you, it will be easier to cope when they do. That is one choice we have; who we choose to share this beautiful life with.
My goal for 29 is to continue to let go of the need to control all aspects of my life, and just let whatever will be, be. To let things happen without my influence. And to embrace it all. The good, the bad, the ugly. To trust the process. Because what you do have control over is your attitude. And how you react. We can challenge ourselves to find meaning when heartache reaches us, and try our hardest to overcome adversity with grace. And in turn, relishing in those beautiful moments when life seems to be quite perfect. That when we feel joy and happiness, when we laugh until we cry, smile until our cheeks hurt, we are reminded of how sweet it all really is. Something as simple as feeling sunshine on your face, serving as a reminder that you are alive. And hanging onto those moments for as long as possible.
I’m a much stronger person than I was a year ago. Mentally I am kinder to myself, and more forgiving. I’m not there yet, because I’m a work in progress. For knowing that, I am thankful. Knowing that it’s okay not to be perfect, or to be disappointed when things aren’t how you want them and to embrace the alternative. And physically because I am a faster runner than I’ve ever been before. For that, I am proud. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone this year with running, and it paid off.
So here’s to a new year, and a new outlook. To getting older, and letting go of expectations. Expectations suck. Unless you expect everyone to be kind. That’s okay.