I recently celebrated my birthday – something we are all lucky to have each year.
Over the last two years I have noticed a change in my feelings towards my birthday and getting older in general. The lead-up now plays out a little differently.
With 20 I was more than excited to say that I’d be turning 21 – this was a time for the constant parade of the ‘new’ – new people, experiences, travels, concepts, ways of thinking, excuses for missing out on class, hairstyles, wisdom – and all the while having no idea about what would be around the corner.
A few years later and I still don’t know what will be around the corner (really, who ever does?), but I’m a little more certain it will be filled with a little less nonsense, carefree/rash decisions or Saturday nights spent in unknown locations.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that I’m not excited to adventure through another year – this is a feeling I can guarantee will never change. Nor does it mean that I don’t see too many ‘firsts’ – quite the opposite. In my mind I am not scared to age, I’m of the camp where life only gets better with time. In my mind however, this annual birthday lead-up has begun to take on some pretty serious undertones in comparison to the flippant thoughts of my early 20’s.
This year it began a little over two weeks before the annual event, only when I realised what day it would land on. Walking home from work one evening I met again with my favourite questions and thoughts – what have I achieved this year? where is my career headed? how do I fair against my peers? when will I make my ‘mark’?, I still haven’t taken that next German course and and and…
These played on repeat over the next few days and was topped off by the ultimate show-stopper: for two consecutive nights I dreamt that my teeth had fallen out. My googling attempts to find an explanation were futile, leaving me only with more thoughts circling around.
This together with the little glisten of grey starting to poke their way through the brown, and its pretty obvious what’s going on here – I am succumbing to the pressure.
We all see this – today’s world is bombarded with so much information and activity from all angles that we somehow feel the need to keep up, to compare ourselves with the rest, to be the best, to have ourselves and our futures sorted. We feel the need to ‘out-travel’ our friends, to be the picture of good-health, be in a committed relationship, have a promotion on the horizon and of course something stashed away for a rainy day. Pressure, expectations and desires – a toxic threesome. This pressure on the one side is nothing new – merely a result of natural human behaviour – together however with an increasingly pervasive mass of social media tools (I heard a new one being thrown around the other day – tinder?!?! I don’t want an explanation) we are slowly beginning to lose sight of the big picture.
It was the comment of a dear, dear family member that snapped be back to reality. Having asking what she had planned for the week she answered with – “I will make the most of each day, beginning with a coffee on my balcony to observe what nature has laid before me, perhaps meeting a friend to throw around a little gossip and ending with pilates to strengthen my body for tomorrow. The rest in between, this is just nonsense.”
It’s the small things – taking a step back, embracing where we stand and forgetting about the deadlines or parties or social updates that really affect us most.
And then I realised – amongst my crazy thoughts, sprouting greys and planning my days to a tee, I have my own ways of taking a moment away from it all to just breathe – and I surprisingly do this regularly.
I try to keep my morning walks free from thoughts of the days meetings/plans – and instead purely focus my senses on the world around me. It is surprising what you notice when you really look.
On my way home from work I avoid using any electronic devices (unless I am meeting someone).
I like to walk through my neighbourhood in the ‘off-peak’ hours – sounds creepy, but there’s something nice with having the streets to yourself.
And I love admiring the small changes in my plants, herbs and flowers as they grow (she’s a funny one that mother nature).
Take it as you will – I’m a dreamer, a lover of nature and find that the simple things are sadly too easily forgotten as we power through the next calendar week (my least favourite reference of time).
Try it – embrace your senses, forget the ringtone and just breathe – and there’ll most likely be no chance of anyone’s teeth falling out.