Today is my birthday. I am 33 years old.
I don’t tell you this to make you wish me a happy birthday, or to garner the attention that telling someone it’s your birthday typically brings. I mention it because it’s a time of reflection for me, and I suspect (especially as we age), it’s the same for many others out there. There were things I had wanted to accomplish by this age. Being married, feeling some amount of financial security, maybe at a different level in my career; things to me that seemed simple and easily attainable to me when I was younger. Don’t worry, I’ve long since let go of those goals as they were with ages attached to them. I’m good with where I’m at, and at least have the wisdom to have the view point on my life that I do. It will happen in it’s own time, fueled by my hard work and everyone else’s grace.
A lot can happen (or not happen) in a year. At this time last year, I was freshly grieving the loss of a pillar of strength and support in my life, my grandmother, while simultaneously bursting with ideas and positivity from my newly given TED talk at TEDx Utica. Since then, was in a car accident with still ongoing medical issues (nothing life threatening, thank the Lord), lost my other grandmother, almost lost my grandfather, and struggled with depression as a result of my concussion from the accident. I never got around to writing that Single Girl Cookies book that I had wanted to write, haven’t truly “auditioned” in months, and dropped the ball at taking the first steps to trademarking SGC, or doing what I really want with it, which is make it a not for profit. This last year has not been a picnic.
And yet, there is good. The lost of my grandmothers brought me familial treasures I couldn’t begin to fathom. One had left us presents and notes for us to find as we went through her belongings after her passing. Notes she wrote years ago, gifts she wrapped years ago, all so we would know she’s still with us. The other gave me back the half of my family that thought was lost for good 20 years ago. When left without a car after mine was totaled, my parents graciously gave me their old one. I may not have auditioned, but through some funny trick of life where I was invited to a reading by one of the first theater people I met when I moved here 5 years ago, I’m now a part of some of the most meaningful work and words that I’ve done and spoken in my adult career, not to mention how incredible the people that I get to work with are. My voice students are having breakthroughs and making me proud at every turn, and today, I will earn my second SAG-AFTRA waiver with my first (small) role on camera. I am still cookie-ing, still loving it, and still finding glimmers of humanity beneath our titanium New York exterior. I have food in my refrigerator, a roof over my head, and people I could call for a favor at 3am if I was in desperate need of something – all things I see as a barometer of a good life.
A good friend said tonight, “33 is young. Think of how you’ll feel when you’re 43 and looking back on 33. That’s how you should be looking at this. It’s the same when you look back to 23. We were babies. You’re still a baby.” She’s right. Of course she’s right, she’s a smart woman, and that’s why she’s my friend 🙂 33 is young.
So today, I’m going to live the advice that I gave to my 10 year old student this week – Give Yourself A Break. Forgive yourself for the things you did not do or accomplish (yet), and promise yourself to do better next time. So maybe I haven’t written that book; that doesn’t mean I can’t. Give Yourself A Break. Maybe this is the year SGC gets a non profit status, or the year I produce some of my finest work on the stage yet. If it’s something you want, keep striving to do better, and focus on your accomplishments, how far you’ve come, not your failures. Give Yourself a Break.
And maybe eat some cake 🙂