Last Wednesday was my 28th birthday. Twenty-eight. I figure that the more I say it, the realer it will be. I was not expecting for much to happen this year for the blessed occasion and I had not made any elaborate plans for celebration like I did for 27. There were sobering reminders all around me entering into this birthday on just how fragile and short life can be. The more I hear about the deaths of those who are my age and younger, the more anxiety builds within me. When will my time be up? Will I accomplish all that plan to? Why all the unknowns? When I heard four days before my birthday of the untimely passing of a young lady who I attended church with as a kid/teenager, the wind was knocked out of my sails a little bit. She was 28, a wife, and a mother of two young children. Life is so precious and there wasn’t a more poignant reminder to have entering into a new year.
What I appreciated about this birthday, however, was no matter how much I wanted certain situations to control the present narrative of my life, things always seemed to turn upwards. For every feeling of rejection, depression, and not being enough that had resurfaced over the past month, there were three compensating acts or words of love, compassion, and acceptance. So while I did not expect much on my birthday (and still managed to have a quasi breakdown), I was overwhelmed and surrounded by love and by acts that communicated that there are people who genuinely appreciate my presence in their lives. I could not receive any better gifts (…beside Auntie kisses from Arden whose first birthday is TODAY!).
So now that my birthday hoopla is over (and Arden’s celebrations are just starting) and I can allow myself the room to stop having a meltdown over this age that was supposed to mean something, I once again find myself at a point where I have to make some serious decisions about my future. Do I begin applying to doctoral programs? Do I want to commit at least three more years of my life to academia? Do I want to reapply to that other program? Do I really want to return to Macon or step out on faith and look for another opportunity? How will I pay for all of this? Can I do this? Safety or faith? FAITH OR SAFETY? Can I find safety in faith? The questions seem to be unending at this point.
The next year will be very important so there’s a sense of urgency to play my cards correctly. However, there is also a yearning to step away from what’s safe and comfortable and to trust the intuition, wisdom, and instinct that I’ve been given. The ways that I’m leaning for these decisions I have to make are not the safe decisions, which is so contrary to my usual functioning. I have always been the have a Plan A-Z type person, typically not moving on from one thing until something else is solidified. But I’ve been feeling more free to make decisions that go against my usual leanings and that is scary.
As I tried to work myself out a moment of tense anxiety yesterday, I tried to think about why decision making causes so much stress for me. I will be the first to admit that I am notoriously indecisive (especially about small matters) but the more decisions I have to make and the more options I have, the more stress I feel. If I’m completely honest, I know that the source of most of that stress stems from the remnants of people pleasing. Many of my decisions in life happen after consulting with several people, hearing what they think I should do, and making my decision based off some part of what they advised. At one point, I loved others’ comfort with my decision more than my own and that proved to be dangerous. Additionally, I never wanted anyone to come back to me with the “I told you so’s” if I fell flat on my face. Some days are better than others but I still hate to look bad in front of people.
Here’s what I have to resolve myself to (again) – whatever decision I make, I have to live with it completely. The pros and the cons; the blessings and the pitfalls. The decisions are mine to make. And if I never make decisions, I’ll spend my whole life so afraid to live that my deepest fears on missing out on things will come true, not necessarily because I didn’t have the time but because I didn’t have the courage to make moves. So I’ve got some chances to take. And so do you. Sooner or later, we’ll discover that most of those chances were worth taking, even in the ways we did not expect.
“Those nouns holding you back from spreading your wings & living your purpose, nix it. God been gave you permission to be great.” – Drea “Brown” Dashiell
Enjoy some pictures from my birthday week!
Pre-Birthday Dinner (7.24) with Kim and Kristina
Emily King concert in Philadelphia (7.25) with Nandi
PJ Morton concert in DC on (7.27) with my Brown
The Day (7.29)
Headed to the Jill Scott concert with my babe on the birthday evening
Jamie’s Birthday Yacht Party (but still my birthday weekend…lol)
Byers and me at Jamie’s Yacht Party (8.1)