My birthday was simple, yet satisfying. It involved all of the things I normally do – which I consider a good sign. These days, I have happy days and the date of my birth just happened to fall on one of them.
Or maybe I’m getting old and a bit of CBF celebrating is creeping in there.
Not sure. But the day started with waking up following a sleepover shift as part of the youth work role I’ve been doing for a while now. I didn’t tell any young people that it was my birthday as the focus is always on them. I did however take note of the twenty-year age gap between us. When I was their age, I didn’t even have a quarter of the resilience they have. My life didn’t get turbulent until my twenties. And even then, I never faced anything close to the trauma I’ve come to hear about.
This isn’t to make comparisons. I’m just thinking about how drastically different the experience of living can be. As I discussed with both a counselling client and a close friend recently, the most important thing is how we regard ourselves. There are always going to be others making judgements or societal pressures that turn us into a bit of a cunt towards ourselves. But none of these things offer space for our own stories in all of their complexity. At the end of the night, we know what’s true. If we can hold our heads up high, we’ll sleep well as we put them down.
A decade ago, at 26, I felt more lost than ever. I was stuck in comparison mode. I was trying to run the ‘rat race’. Then I threw my hands in the air and tried something different. I grabbed an opportunity to go overseas and live and volunteer in Tonga for one year. Turned out it changed the trajectory of my life forever. It had a ripple effect of outcomes and it’s the very reason I’m here at 36 feeling so fucking found. Most areas in my life get a big `ol tick.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s always space for more. But back to how I opened this post – I’m trying to keep things simple and work towards cherishing what I have rather than having more. If anything, my focus is on doing more. More meaningful and quality things, like speaking in schools, growing my counselling business and finishing my second book, Home. Home will go into my experience in Tonga and the following ten years. It’s a mammoth task, but I’m feeling the magic of the muse showing up as I find myself on the loo in the mornings, buzzing from a black coffee while typing away on my phone.
Told you – simple things.
The other big ticket item is an upcoming trip to Europe. I’ve never been and am excited to head over with my partner. We’re going to give the Camino De Santiago Trail a shot. I haven’t been overseas since 2017 when I did India and Nepal for the Basecamp Trek. Which was where I discovered my love for my hikes through scenic places. I say love very much knowing I absolutely hated it at times!
That will be around May next year (2024). From there, there might be some big shake-ups to mym story. Perhaps finding a way to spend more time in Brisbane with my parents as they get older. I also have to think about starting a family of my own and finding a more permanent location. These are the crossroads we inevitably encounter. As a person who has stumbled through changes as they’ve come along, I’m not quite sure how to plan so far ahead. Hopefully, while I walk across Europe, some answers will come. The Camino De Santiago Trail has a reputation for bringing clarity and changing lives.
It might be grim, but I’ve found a helpful way to put some pressure on myself and get some perspective…. thinking about death and mortality. I’ve got a growing number of grey hairs to remind me, but it also comes up in conversation more and more these days. An example being a friend who did electrical work at a series of aged care facilities. I’ll just say the conversation was pretty depressing. And it left me thinking about how quality of life is the most important thing rather than just living long.
Again, this isn’t to compare or judge others. But I really want to take things as far as I can personally go. I never, ever, imagined I’d be where I am. So surely, there is more for me to squeeze out of this lemon.
At the end, when my head goes down for the last time, I want to know I gave it my all. That I became all I was meant to be. That I had an impact.
When I was 26, my ideas of what I considered an impact were pretty inflated. I’ve done some revision since then. A lot really. Through my counselling work, street poetry, youth work, and kind words from my partner and friends, I’ve come to see how all the ‘small change’ adds up.
So I’m going to keep at it. Keep doing me. Reminding myself to be grateful, too.
Hmmm. I should probably sort out the laundry that’s on my floor first.
Thank you for reading.