Today is my birthday. Well, tomorrow is but I’m publishing this on my birthday, July 22nd. Typically, I’m very in-tuned with my birthday. In fact, I’m always looking forward to the month of July. As soon as the first comes, it feels like a countdown clock is turned on. Throughout the year, there aren’t many days that I look forward to but the 22nd of July feels special. Even the phrase “feels special” feels foreign because that’s not an emotion that I experience on a normal basis.
I don’t really consider myself unique though I never thought I belonged to the crowd. Growing up, I never wanted to join the team or pledge a frat. I consider myself 1 of 1 but I don’t think that makes me special; it just makes me… me. This July and this birthday doesn’t feel very remarkable at all. In fact, my 30’s have been a constant combating of feelings and pressures that I was ignoring or didn’t even know existed. This is the first year that I’ve been dreading my birthday.
Discovering things about myself and wondering what it all means brings only more questions in a time where I want answers. I should be thankful, though, that I’m finding a level of honesty about myself that I haven’t felt since I was a child. Growing up, dreaming and fantasizing about what I wanted life to be but coming into an age when very little of that has actually been accomplished is hard to wrestle with. It feels like I’m going back to the beginning and searching for who I want to be.
That kid that lived on Q Street in Southeast DC wanted to become the next Steve Young or an actor or a chef. The teenager that in Fountain Club apartments and tagging FCC on my notebooks wanted to have a career in computers and technology. The young man that graduated college wanted to become a teacher. The thirty-three year-old man is unsure of the future or where to go.
I guess my 30’s have been an exercise of existential crisis. And that’s okay.
This month, I’ve been thinking about what makes me feel happy and fulfilled but being honest if those things are healthy. Accepting the fear of making hard choices but knowing they are necessary. I typically focus on what I don’t have and dwell on negativity but these last few weeks gave me space to appreciate the things I’ve accomplished and the growth I’ve made these last three years.
I love creation. For the first time in my life, I’m creating art and being public about wanting to create. Through my writing and my photography, I’m finding fulfillment in ways that I’ve always wanted, artistically, but never had the guidance and the balls to go after it.
And I love people. Being around others, talking and laughing and living, gives me the most joy. This month, though, has been an exercise of being comfortable with myself when others aren’t around. Figuring out what I want out of life beyond the pressures that I constantly feel.
Yesterday (well, two days ago), I finished watching the fascinating and inspiring Shangri-La, a mini docu-series following music icon Rick Rubin and the dozens of artist and creators that bounce in and around Rubin’s universe. In the fourth and final episode, a conversation with surfer Laird Hamilton struck a cord. The gist of the conservation was ignoring perceived limitations, achieving beyond the norm and not being afraid to fail. While I have trepidation about my birthday, I’m going to remain positive about the future and what it holds. I’ll continue to create, continue to love and continue to look for motivation. Here’s to the next 365.