I never feel old until I’m around younger people — then I’m like, wtf did I do with my life for the last X amount of years?
But this is a different kind of birthday. I dont' feel old at all. In fact, I feel...refreshed. It’s kind of a like a rebirth in a lot of ways.
For the last 2+ years, I’ve been scrambling. Divorce, job, finances, child, my own mental health (which seriously got the back burner more times than I could count) - it was a hot mess. Me, trying to make ends meet. Me, trying to please everyone. Me, putting down boundaries and then getting walloped in the face. It was not fun.
While I certainly don’t wish anyone to go through what I’ve experienced, I can tell you this: I’m stronger and better because of it. I now know my worth. I am not going to settle. Insecure dudes - take the high road. (Or low road, as several have done...) I know what I’m good at and what I need to improve upon. Check your own issues at the door; they are not welcome here.
I’m made colossal mistakes over the past few years. Trusting people who did not deserve my trust. Ruminating on situations I could not change. Trying to make others change when in fact, that was not my place.
But it’s been a long, slow road (::insert hiking analogy here::) to finally get a lot of the life lessons that I needed to learn. Slow down. Be patient. Meet people where they are at. Be kind. When they are not kind, still be kind. Stand up for yourself. And probably most salient: BE PRESENT.
I struggle with being present because I’m predisposed to anxiety. That’s not a cop-out; it just is. Tell me a situation, and I’ll tell you all the positives and negatives that could come about. I will quote you stats. I will tell you all the ways this did not work in the past, because dammit, I've researched it and talked to people and done my due diligence. I will never tell you the best part about being in that situation because I’m thinking 10 ft ahead and possibly two weeks ahead. Maybe that's a good thing - maybe it’s my advanced age. But I am starting to understand - thinking ten feet ahead helps no one.
As the Grand Canyon trip approaches, this advice is more literal than esoteric. I have watched SO many freaking videos on the trails, and I’m like, wow. I need to keep my head down and just move forward. My fear of heights has not gone away; I’ve just learned how to deal with it with all the crazy Mt. Charleston climbs (which, btw, are terrifying. The phrase “rock wall” will send a chill down anyone’s spine if they cannot look at heights.) A friend asked me how I was going to handle the drop offs at the Grand Canyon. My response: I’m not going to look. He said, “You are going all that way to NOT look?” Me: Yes, 100%.
Because that’s practical. That’s me. And I’m okay with that.
As I get older, I’m realizing life is what you make of it. No one is coming to save you. You have to be your own hero. You want a birthday party? You make it for yourself. You want to do big things? You figure it out, and despite the obstacles, you keep going. Grand Canyon has been a weird mix of yes, I’ve got this and, who do I think I am? And at the end of the day, it’s the words of David Goggins that resound most strongly in my brain: I’ll show you. Let me be the next.
I got this.
It’s freaking awesome to have another birthday. In the days of the ‘Rona, some don’t get to. Me, I’m healthy, agile, and athletic. I have the means to travel. I am truly, truly lucky. I can’t wait to see this giant hole in the earth, potentially faint, and then keep going. As Reinier has said many times. conditioning me for the hike, “It’s going to suck at some point.” I’ve always dreaded the suck. Now, I feel like I’m looking forward to it. Just like the half marathon this past weekend, when points of it sucked and I wanted to quit, I reminded myself about the beauty of life: nothing lasts forever. That’s the good news...and the bad news.
Bring on the suck. I got this.
Onward to more adventures!!!