Jennifer Garner, you lied to me.
Today I'm 31. I've officially been in my thirties for one full year, and I'm still not a big time magazine editor, I'm still not a tough bitch, and I still have yet to successfully convince a group of strangers to do the Thriller dance with me at a club. Also, I still don't know the Thriller dance. And where the hell is Mark Ruffalo?! Isn't he supposed to be my boyfriend by now? This is very upsetting.
I walked into my thirties with the very best of intentions and the highest of expectations. 30 was the year I'd work out the kinks. 30 was the year I'd figure my shit out. 30 was the year I'd be happy. Hell, I even made a list of goals for my year thinking that if I were able to check each one off, I'd finally start feeling a sense of balance and happiness.
You want to see the list, don't you? Fine. Here, I'll show you. Be prepared to be more inspired than when you stumble upon Jillian Harris' instagram page.
12 goals for 30:
- Get a tattoo.
- Find a pen pal.
- Start learning French.
- Start a journal for both kids.
- Complete at least two rounds of bbg.
- Contact birth family.
- Take a creative writing course.
- Take a cooking class.
- Volunteer at the library.
- Make a will.
- Start a monthly dinner club.
- Go on a road trip.
And here's how things went:
- Got a tattoo!
- Found not one, but FIVE pen pals! Hashtag WINNING!
- Started learning French! Then stopped! I don't know why!
- Started a journal for both kids! Haven't written in it for three months but that's okay because I never specified how often I'm supposed to be writing in it! Success!
- Completed 1.75 rounds of BBG! Then lost 20 lbs thanks to stressed-induced gall bladder issues! Clothes look great on me now, so let's just round that up to two full rounds! Hooray for health!
- Thought about contacting my birth mother for about 8 seconds one time and then panicked and moved on! Maybe next year! Or maybe I'll panic again! Who knows! I do! I'll definitely panic!
- No creative writing course, BUT I started this blog! It counts, because I say so!
- Took no cooking classes! Didn't even look into one! But I did sign up for the business administration course at the college where I'm living now! So does that count? Hey! I make the rules! I say yes!
- One day at the library here I kindly told a group of young boys to stop staring out the window at the peace officer getting his ass handed to him by a drunk guy outside! I'm pretty sure that counts as volunteer work since none of the staff were stepping up to the plate! You're welcome for my service!
- Definitely forgot about making a will until I spent three days in the hospital being forced to fast (gallbladder issues) and thought I was going to starve to death! Sorry kids! You almost got nothing!
- No dinner club, but I did get a job as a server! Close enough!
- Does separating from my husband and moving across the province to live with my parents count as a road trip? Cause that happened! Okay! Road trip it is!
So, clearly life went exactly as I had hoped when I initially came up with those goals. (If you didn't pick up on that blatant sarcasm, I think it's time you took a long, hard look at yourself and finally admit that you need to pay more attention to Jeffery when you watch Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I'm not upset, just disappointed.)
All jokes aside, this year was undoubtedly my most challenging. I was forced to uproot myself from a life I had felt secure in, and make some choices I knew I'd be judged and possibly even alienated for. I ended up having to defend myself for things I never expected I'd have to defend myself for to people I never expected I'd have to defend myself to. I had to come to terms with letting people down. This may come as a surprise, but I'm a bit of a people pleaser and disappointing the people in my life was not an easy thing to reconcile myself with.
But I did it. And despite it all, I am happy.
Wait. I'm happy? I'm happy! I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.
Six months ago I was a heaping mess of sadness and confusion. I was lonely and broken, and felt like the only control I had in my life was the level of cleanliness of my house. (My house was immaculate, by the way. #humblebrag) Think of that scene in Arrested Development where George Michael is walking down the street to the Charlie Brown song after getting dumped by Egg. I mean An. Is that how her name is spelt? Who cares. Anyways, that was me. Minus the Charlie Brown song. Plus some sobbing. Plus two kids following me around because I couldn't just go moping down a street and leave my kids at home by themselves. You get the idea.
But through all of the sorrow, confusion, and fear, I discovered so much more about life and about myself than I think I would have without the pain. And ultimately, these discoveries were far better than checking off some to do list for my year. Though, let's just be clear, it's a damn good list if I do say so myself. Feel free to use it. Except maybe don't contact my birth family. That would be weird.
So, what were some of the discoveries I made, you ask? Oh, you didn't ask? Don't care. My blog. I'm sharing.
I discovered that I was wrong about laughing always being a better alternative to crying. Sometimes the only thing that'll help (besides getting day drunk on white wine with your girl gang) is to cry until your voice is gone and your eyes are swollen. I never thought I'd say it, but sometimes laughing is for chumps.
I discovered that cheese can be baked into a giant crisp that you can break off, dip into guacamole, and eat as a chip. And that you'll get super constipated if you eat it. The more you know!
I discovered that even in the darkest, emptiest moments of life, it is possible to find the good, and I'm pretty dang good at finding the good. Even after experiencing betrayal, my ability to trust in the genuine goodness of others does not waver.
I discovered that giving up does not necessarily equal failure. Sometimes, when a book is dragging and you find you are having to force yourself to turn the page and keep reading, it's okay to dramatically slam it down on the table or drop kick it or whatever, and say "No more! Time for a better book!" In some cases, giving up can actually mean success, as long as you find a better book. Excuse me as I quickly high five myself for that stellar metaphor I just came up with. Yeah!
I discovered that lightening can temporarily blind you. People might think you're being dramatic when it happens and you start shouting about it, but it's only because they've been fortunate enough to have never experienced it themselves. Just trust me on this one.
I discovered that too many ice capps can give me diarrhea. As does stress. You've been warned.
I discovered that happiness is a choice. Even when it feels like life has stripped away every reason to smile, there are still tiny joys waiting to be found. You just need to want to find them. It could be a mug with a boy beaver saying "hot dam, nice timbits" to a girl beaver. Or one of your best pals strutting into work with a vented leather jacket with a goofy grin on his face. Or a "hey there" that ends up being so much more than just a "hey there". There's good everywhere. Find it. Hold on to it. Never let it go.
I discovered that love is the brave choice. Whether it's allowing yourself to be loved when you don't feel worthy, choosing to love someone else when you're afraid of walking away heartbroken, or just loving yourself when you feel like you're unlovable. It can all be terrifying. But it's worth it. Dive in.
Last one, and then I'm going to go eat eggs benedict, because if there's one thing that can pull me away from writing, it's breakfast. Or Netflix. Or work. Or my kids. Well...now you know why it's been a while.
I discovered that I'm too hard on myself. So this year I'm taking the pressure off and just giving myself just two goals to strive for.
2 Goals for 31:
- Savour the good moments.
- Strengthen in the bad moments.
Actually, no. There's a third.
- Learn the Thriller dance and successfully convince a group of strangers to do it with me at a club.
Happy birthday me! Thanks me! You're welcome me.