Somewhat unfortunately, my birthday collides violently with the beginning of the year, every year. That’s how birthdays work.
And every year, I am convinced a complete overhaul is necessary, a shiny new to-do list needs to be developed and implemented with care, and there is a blind hope that a new, better version of me will emerge, this time next year. I create action items—not resolutions—broken down simply as words with accompanying boxes to check next to them.
Success is always at the top of this list, with varied definitions of the word spelled out beneath the header.
Work smarter, not harder. Focus on referrals. Make x dollars. Sign up for a designation course. Don’t kill your business partner (the most pressing).
Next, usually, is passion, with items like,write more, go to x amount of shows, create a new magical playlist, and write more, again, lining the page.
Relationship is next, with notes about family communication, dates with my partner, reaching out to old friends and getting out more building below the title.
And, finally, Me is written, with a pause for what should follow. Bitch less, workout more, stop eating fruit snacks every night before bed, drink less coffee, drink more water, workout more, again, and breathe every now and then.
Every year, my birthday wish for the upcoming months is the same, with a focus on ideals that seem to lack depth and breadth, shallow in nature and pointless in implementation. Each year, I cross items off this pathetic list, not because those tasks have been completed, but because I, generally within weeks, have come to the realization that the list is ignorant in its existence and worthless to me in actually achieving anything of worth.
I begin again with the same routine I have done for years, and not much changes. Growth comes eventually, when I am able and willing to receive it, but my list stays where it began—in a sad folder on my computer, filled with lackluster goals for the future and hopes for a life that simply no longer apply.
Mentally, I started this year’s birthday list in my mind, and cached it quickly. There must be more to see, more to do, and I desperately want this round to shine through with difference and grace. So, then, what is a girl to do?
We enter this world free of prejudice, free of angst, free of disappointment, eyes wide open to the beauty that lies before us. Our tiny hands ready to grasp whatever may come, our mouths unable to speak doubt, and our developing brains incapable of conjuring up worry about the days ahead. The universe presents a simple stage for us to grace with our presence, in whatever manner we deem fit. Our stories, in the beginning, are ours to create and share, molding who we will become and what we will leave behind.
The clock starts ticking in that moment, as we are cultivated by parental influence, education, and social interaction to gain the tools necessary to build the potentially beautiful song we will eventually present to this world. Shall it be slow to start then increase in both volume and tempo? Will there be dramatic crescendos or unexpected rests? Will the melody be pleasing, light in nature but noticeably charged with emotion, or will it reign down as a dark cloud, birthing passion in a different way? Will people want to hear our song when it is all said and done? Will we?
Only in reflection can we grow. Sitting in a quiet apartment on the dawn of a new day, a new year breathes a kind of calm and peace that is not the norm for me. No e-mails are clogging my inbox, no to-do lists exist in any formal sense, the dog and the man sleep hard in the next room. Responsibilities are few and commitments have yet to begin. I am truly able to view my past year in a way that is beneficial, to me and me alone.
My version of success does not need to live up to anyone else’s—my goals for the upcoming year need not be compared to others’. I can replay the song I have created so far and have a clear vision of where it will flow next. It is pleasing, to me, at least in some capacities, and needs some fine tuning on others. That much is clear.
My birthday wish is simple in theory—I want nothing more than happiness and peace in all that I do. To be fully present and equally aware of my surroundings each and every day, to fulfill the tasks I have promised to myself and others, to fall asleep each night knowing I have accomplished what I set out to achieve. Beginnings do not always need to be grand or dramatic. A steady drip of life that exudes a sense of consistency and calm is all I hope to acquire in the upcoming months. The lists starting to build in my mind need not be lengthy or nearly impossible, and the goals I set out for myself do not necessarily need to be greater than the past year.
Happiness and peace in all I do—that’s it. Here’s to a year of aging gracefully, and blessing those near and dear to me with my beautiful song.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise