Today is my fortieth birthday. That’s right. 4-0. FORTY. As you can imagine when you reach this milestone, you start contemplating life and such, as I have.
And I’ve come to realize that I am a hot ass mess.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done so much, experienced so much in my 4 decades. Lived in one of the greatest cities in the world. Traveled to various countries. I’ve probably had a better life than most. But, I am a lost soul, y’all. Forty years on this earth and I have no idea what I’m doing with myself. Life is confusing and hard and I have no clue what I’m supposed to do with it.
The pressures of societal expectations weight heavily on me. There are times when I can say society can bite me and truly mean it. That’s most times actually. But there are also times – like when you turn a certain age and you get all introspective ahem – and realize you haven’t done anything on the “expected” checklist that you wonder if you’re somehow broken. Logically, I know I’m not broken, but coming to terms with being not like what everyone expects you to be is tough. My personal checklist includes cage diving in South Africa and Kenyan safaris and the Scottish Highlands, in case you’re wondering where my own expectations are. And it’s strange, because most days when I think about marriage, babies, etc., I would rather be flayed alive. Metaphorically. Well, not so much the babies thing. But even then, I question whether I want it because I’m expected to want it or if it’s genuine desire. And if I’m still having the questions, then that must mean that I shouldn’t do it, right? Or what if I do and realize, yeah, this isn’t for me. A little too late for that, isn’t it? And leaving behind a legacy is something I think about. Growing old alone… More than anything, I’m always afraid I’m disappointing my mother by not being more traditional. She’d never say such a thing and I can’t change who I am, but that fear of failing this aspect of growing up is always at the back of my mine.
…and Financial Security?
I don’t have a calling. I don’t have a dream job. I thought I did, and it led me to New York. I miss that place by the way. I love life in New York City, but I hated living there, if that makes sense. But, I’m getting off topic… I came to this epiphany while in New York working in publishing. I could never find my place though I love little else more than I love books. I interned at an agency. I worked in production (this would be what I go back to if I ever returned to publishing), marketing, editorial, writing reviews (dear GOD I hate writing book reviews). I tried damn near everything. I don’t have the burning desire to discover the next great American novel. Nor do I want to write it, if that’s what you think I should do. And with every job I applied to, the only thing that motivated me was financial stability and independence.
That’s my entire reason for wanting to work period. Getting the question, “why do you want to work at ABC Job Place?” always left me stumped, because you can’t say “Cuz the salary’s good and I need the money and benefits. Other than that, I have no emotional attachment to this position or your company.” Maybe you can, but you probably won’t get hired. Which is why I am so freaked out about this aspect of my life at this age. Societal expectations again… We’re expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives when we’re 18-22 years old and in college, at a time when most of us are just getting our first taste of real independence. Which is such bullshit when you think about it. I was a moron at 18. Complete dumbass. Hell, I was still a moron at 25. I still do stupid shit now. On purpose sometimes… Point is, I need to support myself financially, and right now I’m underemployed and underpaid and employment prospects are thin. I might (probably) have to go back into a field that literally made me physically sick. The very idea is making my head hurt just thinking about it. Can I really sentence myself to that for the next 20+ years for a check? Things would be so much easier if I could just win the lottery. Or someone would pay me to travel and read books.
…and Fearing the Unknown
Which all leads me to wondering where I’m going to be in the next 5, 10, 20 years (another job interview question I detest), and counting. I just don’t know. No one does, I suppose. But, it’s a pressing question for me considering everything that I just word-vomited in this post.
…and Figuring it all Out?
Eventually. I guess. Or never and I’ll go to my grave still wondering what I should’ve done with my life. And I haven’t even touched on the body image issues and my overall lack of giving a f*ck about most things. Or the anxiety. Emotions are not my forte. But, today is my birthday. I did the whole BIG birthday thing last year. I think I’m going to make it a tradition to celebrate the milestones on off years. Maybe a cruise next year. Or London. I gotta use my Virgin Atlantic miles anyway. My plans today are simple: to read, eat shitty food, and not stress about things I can’t control. Man, do I wish I could control them.