My 29th birthday was on Saturday, marking the last home stretch before a new decade beckons, full of unknowns and brimming with potential.One year left of the addled carefree life of a 20-something. It feels harder to pretend you’re just a young adult trying to figure things out when you’re in your 30s.
Birthdays to me serve as a marker. A celebration of life, and at times a solemn reminder that that life is precariously mine to keep. A time to look ahead at what’s to come, but also to reflect on how far I’ve come in the last year.
A year ago I had just returned from Thailand. The upheaval of that move and the instability in the months following created a near constant state of stress and anxiety. What I yearned for as I turned 28 was a settling. To find a place to call home, to build a life there. I wanted to conquer my demons and fight for a productive and healthy life. I hoped 28 would bring some peace to my ever-restless soul.
At 29 I find that I am the same person I was at 28. My ache for belonging continues, my endless search for purpose and place. At times it feels hopeless, that I fight and struggle for a better life without ever making any progress. There are days when the future seems daunting and impossible. That all the effort I’ve put in hasn’t made any difference at all. But when I look back on the past year, it becomes clear just how far I’ve come.
In the last year I accomplished a lot. I spent three months traveling, visiting friends and family, preparing for a wedding, helping to remodel a house. I moved to California, with very little plan. I got a job at a juice shop by the ocean, continued a freelance writing career, went on hikes. I tried kickboxing, Pilates, and yoga. I made new friends, I went on dates.
I got a job at Sony, I played a lot of video games and watched a lot of TV and learned that’s not for me. I traveled to Seattle, watched my best friend’s family growing and saw babies turn into children with tender hearts and boisterous personalities.I got visits from family, friends, and people I hadn’t seen in years.
I fell in love with the way the sun sets over the choppy water along the coast.I got my wisdom teeth removed. And then immediately got meningitis. I lost 20 pounds and found myself a stranger in a body that didn’t feel like my own. And then I recovered.I left my job at Sony and got a new one at Sonder with one of my very best friends.
I have built a life this past year that is whole. It has been hard, but it’s been good. Mental and physical illness are still formidable foes, but another year has passed and my head is still above water.
I think the word I’d choose for the coming year is hopeful. I have hope that one day I’ll wake up on my birthday and not remember what it was like to be depressed. I am hopeful that soon San Diego will feel like home and that the roads and coastlines will become familiar and warm, welcoming me back whenever I leave. That this place will be the place my soul feels at ease.
I am hopeful that a future exists in which I bring more joy than cynicism to a world that threatens to crush us. And I am hopeful that 29 will be year of growth, of love, of purpose, and of renewed perseverance.
Here are some photos of the past year. 28 was filled with a lot of changes, but I am so lucky to have been given a year filled with this much goodness.