#45: I turn 30 today

Hi hello, it’s been a whirlwind month. I got into a bad car accident while out of town that prevented me from walking or standing properly for two weeks, then found out my employer is getting acquired by the makers of Turbotax and Quickbooks—all while my therapist was out of office.

I also turn 30 today, which is exciting and not terrifying like people make it out to be! But with everything going on at the precipice of a new decade, I’ve definitely been going through it emotionally—I’ve cried a lot these past few weeks and have experienced much pain and catharsis (the upside to trauma is that it allows me to cry freely 🙃 ). I stopped time blocking my days or tracking my habits, shedding the weight of unnecessary pressure to be productive but feeling untethered without it.

Pressing pause on my relentless pursuit to learn, create, and optimize has been much needed. In my early twenties I was overcome with desire to create and share things but felt too scared and clueless to try. By my mid-twenties, after a career transition, making new friends, and falling in love, I grew the confidence to take my dreams seriously. My late twenties comprised of starting various self-led projects and trying different mediums to see how I could best create something meaningful while enjoying the process. I have been so hard on myself—confusing others’ goals for my own and expecting too much too quickly, or shifting gears and feeling guilty for doing so—all while neglecting the deterioration of my emotional health.

“The problem isn’t exactly that [productivity] techniques and products don’t work. It’s that they do work—in the sense that you’ll get more done… and yet paradoxically, you’ll only feel busier, more anxious, and somehow emptier as a result.” - Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks

I’d like to say that I have released pressure to accomplish and have made peace with appreciating the small things in life, but I’ve been here before. I know that my ambition is quietly biding its time until I get bored of not striving, ready to consume my waking thoughts.

My deepest craving is for others to see and understand me through what I make, yet I am equally afraid to be seen even by the people closest to me. These paradoxes surround my desires and I grapple with them over and over again. It’s why I feel compelled to pursue a lofty goal (write a book! launch a shop!) but can’t seem to stick to one for long. It’s relieving at least to know that these self-sabotaging patterns aren’t unique to me, but something that we all battle while pursuing our wants and needs.

It’s funny—one of the first thoughts I had after the car accident was wondering how this experience was going to change me. My brain is so used to fantasizing about novel situations to transform me into a more evolved person that I immediately wanted to utilize my trauma in this way, rather than sitting in suffering. I thought it’d be poetic to have a tidy tale of transformation as I turned 30. Instead I am learning that change must be slow to last long, and it can only be driven by self-compassion rather than self-judgment.

In this new decade I’m going to keep making art. I will reveal myself more to the people I love, both in joy and suffering. I will integrate myself in community and prioritize connecting with others. I will forgive myself and have compassion during moments of faltering and recognize that this is because of fear. I am going to try, fail, re-remember past lessons, learn new ones, and try again. Life is but an endless cycle of this process—I am hopeful that I will be able to make peace with it.