I turned 29 this past week. Although, to most people, 29 isn’t its own age, it’s “The Year Before 30” *shudders*. Turning older no longer means new privileges, it means new responsibilities. I don’t totally know when it happened, but it seems that as soon as we pass the era of birthday parties and goodies bags we suddenly view our special day with disdain and resentment. When I hit my first birthday outside of my college years, I drew a blank as to how to celebrate another 365 days around the sun without quarter night at the local town-y bar. Is there even another option? All the years started to blur together, no longer signaling another life achievement, or graduation, or new job. I had already checked those defining boxes. Yet, despite how much was already behind me, so much more was up ahead. And why shouldn’t I be pumped about that?
So, this year I decided to feel nothing but gratitude and excitement as I edged closer and closer into my next decade. Quite honestly, things were so much harder in my early twenties that, if I wanted to feel anything, it would be relief to wave them goodbye. It was a time to celebrate what I overcame to be who I am now, and how I could reflect on the part 29 years to make the next 29 years the best yet. If you’re not thrilled about entering a new age on the treadmill or seeing your birth year get further and further behind you, here’s how to reclaim the joy and positivity that surrounds another year of getting older.
Establish Life Direction
Unlike your 18 year old self that had to declare a college major that would determine the rest of your life, at this age you have a pretty good idea of what you want to go after. Or, at least, an idea of what you don’t want. Whether it’s where you live, where you work, or how you spend your free time, you have the independence to go after what you want and the skills to recuperate if it doesn’t work out. Your birthday is the time to pencil in some life goals, or at least a guideline or two of what you’d like to accomplish in the next year.
Smart Enough To Know That Will Change
Along with constructing your life direction, you 100% know that it will not go according to plan (which is why you wrote it in pencil..). And that will not only be okay, but awesome. Perhaps two kids and a golden retriever isn’t exactly what you need to be fulfilled. While your job pays the bills for now, you’re comfortable knowing that a career change might be up ahead or you’ll finally make the leap into entrepreneurship. So for today, dream the biggest dreams you can and give them room to fit into how your life unfolds, in whatever form that may be.
Recognition For Where You Are Now
Congratulate yourself. You found yourself a job, a place to live, and people to do all of that with. Mostly, you made it out of middle school when it was touch and go there for awhile. That, alone, is enough to cheers to.
While Appreciating All That Comes Before
As much as you look ahead, it’s time to give yourself some credit for how far you’ve come. This is the day to remember the valleys and thank them for leading you to mountains. The heartbreaks you never thought you’d recover from, or the new cities where you never thought you’d make another friend, were a necessary part of the puzzle to build the skills you’ll need the years hereafter. Instead of shoving those low moments into the back of your mind, thank them for the strength they gave you and make peace with regrets that might still linger around. Maybe majoring in English wasn’t the most lucrative choice, or moving away from family wasn’t the easiest life to pick, but you did and you are doing the best you can. And that is enough.
Surround Yourself with People You Like
Establishing a new direction for my life led me to people who not only understood me, but pushed me out of my comfort zone. There’s no better way to celebrate your birthday than with those that helped you get where you are. Although it was a mishmash of groups, I wanted to have everyone I loved in the same room. Instead of everyone introducing themselves only for guests to forget a gazillion new names a minute later, I created goofy name tags for people to write down their names along with their defining characteristics. While I wanted to celebrate my birthday with all my friends, it’s even better if they walk out with new buds too.
Channel Your Inner Child
Nothing says you’re almost thirty like glitter sunglasses and fake mustaches, which were the goodies I decided to pass out for my celebration. But really, do you even need a birthday as an excuse to shine bright like a diamond? Strong no.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate your birthday each year?