In approximately 5 hours, my 30's will be over and I will enter my fifth decade of life.
I feel a sense of duty to acknowledge this milestone and I will with a celebration combining my birthday and my recent graduation on Sunday. If I had to do my 30's all over again, would I? I would say an unequivocal "No," but I wouldn't answer as quickly as I would if invited to re-live my 20's. Who the hell wants to do that again??
I feel that I have really grown into becoming the woman I knew I could be and was supposed to be, throughout the past decade. My teen-age years were filled with the requisite amount of angst, I made some life-changing, horrific mistakes in my 20's, and although I certainly made mistakes during the past decade, my vision has slowly become clearer and my picture of who I am and where I belong in the world is markedly sharper. I attribute most of that clarity to the last several years which I've spent in graduate school. While learning to become a therapist, it's inevitable that one review ones' life in therapeutic terms: What motivates me? How do I define happiness? How can I confront others with empathy? How do I respond to being confronted or critiqued? How gentle, comfortable, and accepting could I be with my feelings, and am I gentle, comfortable, and accepting with my feelings now? There are probably a dozen more examples I could give of how studying to become a therapist has prompted me to re-examine and re-frame my own life. Socrates believed that "the unexamined life is not worth living." I wouldn't go that far in support of internal insight, because I've met plenty of clients, fellow students, and other folks that spend so much time engaged in self-reflection that it quadruples their current anxiety, depression, obsessions, etc.
I'm happy to be turning 40 tomorrow. Happy because I'm still vertical and not "sleeping in eternal rest." Happy because I've come so far in re-establishing a life for myself after moving back to this area in 2002 when I was horribly active in my addition. And I'm probably most happy because I have a meaningful life surrounded by the unconditional love and support of family and friends and a career that I feel I have been "called" to do. Although I've struggled and survived heartbreaks, I've also relished in the joy of accomplishment, loving others and being loved in return, and knowing within my soul who I am and what I stand for.
Happy Birthday to me.