Last year on my birthday, a friend brought me this mug as a gift, doubling as a dark, inside joke – one with bad grammar obviously-. And it couldn’t be more befitting of the occasion, or that brief phase of my life, because God knows, I was angry, and on the receiving end of that anger were some of the closest people to me – and they deserved it by the way.
If memory serves me well, I think that was the angriest I’ve ever been on a personal level, and it wasn’t hormones at play. I’m sick of people blaming every burst of anger a woman has on her hormones. I mean, you can blame estrogen for the fat on your hips to a certain extent but you cannot blame it for ruining your relationships. Glad we got that out of the way.
Well, long story short, I was 32 and angry, and I could pinpoint a major source of that anger: Expectations. Caring about people and trying to show it then expecting the same from them, thus putting pressure on yourself as well as on them.
After the Great Explosion, something snapped.
Not only have I become the mild-tempered girl I was again, I actually acquired a newfound apathy, or let’s say I became a reactions: You care, I care back. You ask, I answer. You share, I share. Outside those lines, I don’t know you, you don’t exist.
And it felt great. I called friends whenever I felt like I needed a change of air, or a conversation, or was just bored. I bought gifts because it made me feel good, not because I wanted to make others feel good or because I felt obliged. I didn’t force myself into social visits or events. It was all about me, and I didn’t feel guilty. I was not about to be disappointed by another soul, and I had myself to lean on. I was no one’s priority so I decided to make myself my own priority.
Needless to say I’ve been disappointed a couple of times since, but I’ve discovered that I’ve achieved a new level of resilience. But let me get back to the concept of prioritizing yourself, which I believe every girl over 30 should do, because in a society like ours, once you cross that threshold and you’re still single and living with your parents, you will gradually slide into the whirlwind of living the lives of others, and it’s a slippery slope.
Now as I approach 33, I’m grateful for everything I’ve been through and all the feelings I had, including anger. I try to strike a healthy balance between optimism and realism, letting go of expectations yet keeping my hopes up, knowing for sure that whatever God decides to gives me, whatever path He chooses for me, will be for the best.
So, I keep telling myself that this year the spell will be broken, meaning that the miserable feeling that tainted my last three birthdays won’t be there. There was a different reason each year and I was resisting the temptation to indulge in dramatic monologues about how my birthday has become a depressing occasion.
But what is life without some irony. Checking the calendar, I found out my birthday coincides with the first day of Eid Al-Adha. You know, having said what I said about my birthday being depressing lately, I should confess that major holidays full of familial obligations could get me a bit depressed too, especially when it’s my birthday and I’m making seasonal social visits.
So, yeah, double threat. Or let’s say it could be a double-edged sword, it could turn out to be really, really, great.
And you know, 33 is a nice number. It’s homogenous, and it’s kind of holy, you know, it’s said to be the age of Jesus when he ascended to the Heavens, and it’s also said to be the age of people in Heaven. I mean, if God decides to make us all 33 for all eternity then that must be the best age to be alive, no?
And you know, I used to be more intimidated by numbers before, but it seems to get better with age and experience. I mean, not that numbers don’t matter, they do. You just don’t care. You have your own pace, life is not a race, and nobody cares whether you reached that fictional finish line having checked all items on your checklist or not.
So here’s to hope for a new year with less anger, less expectations, less disappointments, more caring where it’s adequate and less where it’s not called for, and hopefully many pleasant surprises and turns of events…