Prepare yourself to feel everything all at once. I spent a while thinking about what and how to write a post for my own birthday that wasn't too overly self-centered but wasn't too overly sad. One that would acknowledge another passing year, but not make an event of it. What I came up with is something I try to avoid as much as I can, but it's going to be my birthday, so I'm going to do whatever I want for a second.
If I had to reflect on the last year, or even the last few years, of my life, and I had to subtract all of the uniquely me experiences – the specific people, places, things that only I will live in that particular way – and boil it down to hand out, it would be this.
Again, so you don't have to scroll back up –
Prepare yourself to feel everything all at once.
School prepares you for a job. Family, to make your own one day. Friends, to be less of a jerk. We get frustrations so we learn to handle frustrations. We win to become good winners and lose to remain good sports.
Life, it seems, is a process of wearing down our sharp edges through friction. We rub ours against the circumstances of our lives until we're a little less rough. A little more touchable. We find ourselves this way. Our real selves.
And it's an incredibly positive and painful experience. We have to be who we're to become, but we hate to be who we weren't. The sharp edges we grind down smooth were us. They were flaws, but they were ours.
We see the future and remember the past but we're not in either. We're in the middle. Becoming.
There will be days that you swear the sky itself is in the palm of your hands and days that you know you won't be getting off of the couch. Sometimes, these days will be even be the same day. Every minute of your life, you're bound to feel. Don't believe them when they say it all has to be good.
The hurt can get so deep you'll be sure you won't crawl out. That's okay. Happiness will be there when you're done. And you'll always be done, even if "eventually" is so far around the corner it's on a different city block entirely.
It will all come to you unexpected, too. Creeping up to you when you just know you have it all figured out is the blunt instrument of reality that you're making it all up with each step. There's no path for you to follow that won't eventually lead you somewhere different than you were first headed.
Prepare yourself for this as best as you can. There's no recipe to cook it any other way, no drug to take to escape it nearly long enough.
There is this and only this.
And it is beautiful and horrible all at once.