I was thinking, “I’m at a big crossroads in my life. I’ll soon embark on some new and exciting adventure (once I know which one I can embark on). Maybe my birthday should be an occasion to share some deep wisdom and reflection about my life.”
The truth is that nothing awfully poignant comes to mind as I celebrate my 24th birthday today.
A lot happened in the past year. I voted for Barack Obama and watched him win the election. Prompted by Proposition 8’s passing in November, I wrote a rough draft of my atheism manifesto. Needing an outlet to further discuss those ideas, I began this blog and have devoted a lot of time and energy to it. I had surgery. I presented at a national conference. I was assistant musical director for a phenomenal performance of Gypsy. I defended my learning portfolio, devised and performed a dramatic montage reflecting on my experiences, and completed my Master’s degree. I even met someone that tickled my heart strings until geographical circumstances intervened.
And right now, year 25 is a blank slate waiting to be carved out. I have no idea what to expect, except getting a job. It’s kind of exciting, but it’s the first time in my life that I have had this much uncertainty. But you know what? When I look at that list of significant achievements from year 24, I know that more than half of them were unexpected a year ago. I’ll just do what I do: make the most of opportunities that present themselves.
In his typical cheesy fashion, my father asked me this morning if I “feel older.” I think I’m at a point in my life where feeling older has nothing to do with how much I’ve grown or matured. Life is now about accomplishments and memories. It’s not just enough to be proud of what you’ve done, but you need to be able to look back and know in your heart it was all time well spent. I’m not just proud of this blog; I’m delighted by the connections I’ve made and the engaging dialogue I’ve had on challenging ideas. I’m not just proud of an amazing performance of Gypsy; I have amazing memories to cherish from working with a truly wonderful cast and crew.
Right now, I’m still pursuing the job search, and honestly, my time isn’t being well spent. But I think I’ve gotten to a place where I understand that that’s okay. I’m recharging; I’m gearing up. When the job search works out, I will be able to jump in and commit all of my energy to the students at the institution that hires me. I have no doubt that year 25 will be just as exciting and rewarding as year 24. I don’t know what’s in store, so how could it not be??
I know that birthdays are usually a time to receive salutations, but I want to offer them today. This blog, by its nature, often has a critical tone. I want to leave you today with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Live your life without regrets. Make sure that every moment counts, so that when it’s your birthday, you can look back on the past year to proud accomplishments to motivate you and warm memories to comfort you as you begin the next year.
If you can’t do that, you might be missing out on life.