My Mid-30s Crisis: Happy Birthday To Me
I had a melt down two days ago. Two days before my 3*th birthday. I’d awoken from a nightmare where a dear friend had told me, “You’re over-the-hill, girl, you’re old.” Just a week ago, I had discovered my first grey hair – of all places at the front of my head – and that sent me into a panic. Ever since I turned 30, or perhaps as early as 25, I’ve been in a state of denial about aging. Sure, there are those times when I embrace my age and experience, but for the most, I simply cannot believe that I’m already this old! Where did the years go?
Not long after I awoke and tried futilely to make sense of my dream, as customarily every morning while still lying in bed, I reached for my iPhone and checked emails, WhatsApp messages, Twitter and yes, Facebook. The first thing that popped up in my news feed was a post from a former Columbia J School colleague. She was expressing gratitude for “the well wishes.” I was clueless, so I checked her page to find out what the good news was. A photo of her and an equally attractive male greeted me. They were sitting against a picturesque background, holding up wine glasses and even from the screen of my iPhone, the rock on her left fourth finger was blinding. The caption read, “She said ‘Yes.’” The photo comments confirmed her engagement. I found myself saying out loud, “Awwww.” Excitedly, I too wrote her a congratulatory note. I felt genuinely happy for my “friend.” No sooner had I posted the message, I felt the fountain well up and next thing I knew, I was bawling.
“Why can’t I have that kind of joy too?” I asked myself. Then started the pity party. All of a sudden I felt totally unaccomplished in every sphere of my life. I’ve chosen the profession I love – journalism, but I’m still seeking my dream job or at this moment, a full-time position. Freelance journalism can be quite a headache! I’m also overdue for publishing my first book. I love children, but apart from six godchildren, I have not given birth to any of my own. I have yet to build the house I’ve designed in my mind; I still rent an apartment. I still have to watch every penny I spend, hardly ever for a want, always for a need. Plus, goodness knows most of my money go toward paying off student loans. And while over the years, I’ve been to at at least 30 countries on three different continents; I still can’t afford to go on the vacations I’d fantasized about in my more youthful days. In fact, apart from going home to Barbados twice this past year, it’s been a while since I’ve traveled internationally for leisure.
I started thinking about all the things lacking in my life and the fact that all of my close friends around my age are married with children, or in committed relationships, and have successful careers. In those moments, I felt like I had nothing and no one. Added to that, I was about to be even further into my 30’s in two days. Surely, this was not where I had imagined I’d be at this stage in my life. Through my tears, I wrote an email to a confidante and mentor in Barbados with the subject line: “Please Call Me.” In the text, I explained that I was having a terrible bout of depression and needed some encouragement.
Within five minutes, Trevor called. He asked, “Did you wake up in your room this morning?” I answered, “Yes.”
“Was the ceiling there?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. Then he asked, “Was the fan there?” I started to laugh as I realized where he was going. His questions were in response to the following signature attached to emails sent from my iPhone:
“When I woke up this morning I asked myself, ‘what is life about?’ I found the answer in my room. The fan said ‘be cool.’ The ceiling said ‘aim high.’ The window said ‘see the world.’ The clock said ‘every minute is precious.’”
My friend asked what was the source of my misery and admitted that he’d sensed some of it the last few times he’d seen me in Barbados. Well, on the relationship/children front he clarified. He thinks I’m pretty confident and otherwise “have it together.”
Anyway, he’s not the type to lecture. He’s usually very forthright, thoughtful and always offers sage counsel. Even if it sounds like a cliché, he told me to be proactive; to do something about the issues I have control over and to simply accept what I cannot change. Then feeding my palate for delectable music and to further brighten my spirit, Trevor sent me a YouTube video of Wynton Marsalis – Jazz in Marciac 2009. Between the pep talk and an hour of sweet sexy “recorded live” vibes of Marsalis, the warrior in me was revived. I spent the rest of my day aggressively job hunting and doing what I most enjoy – writing.
Yesterday, Trevor called to ask if I were feeling better and what I thought about the music. “I loved it, ” I said, “I ended up replaying it twice. Yes, I am much better, thanks. I’m feeling very grateful.” Shortly after I hung up, I logged onto Facebook, where again some news greeted me. My friend, Julie, whom I’d previously mentioned on this blog and featured her photography, had just posted some lovely photos of her mom. Clicking on one, I discovered that she had died a couple of days prior. Heartbroken, I wrote Julia a message of condolence.
In that moment, the quote from my email resonated stronger than ever: “Every minute is precious.” It does not matter what I do not have. What matters is this moment, this hour, this day, giving thanks for another year of this blessed life that God has given to me. What matters is using this precious time as best as possible to live the best life I can. And honestly, that’s just what I’ve been striving to do all these 3* years!
P.S.: Happy birthday to my sweetheart sister Sancia, who was born on my 4th birthday. I love you sis! xoxo
~ I Keep it Irie ~