Lots of people in my life are having banner birthdays this year! You know the ones that bring you from one decade to another and although you are only a year older yet again, you somehow feel like you’ve made a much bigger leap in time. Friends and family all around me are turning 30, 40, 50, and 60! My oldest child will be thirty this fall! My mom turned 80 and I am right now rocking 49 on my way to 50!
Banner birthdays tend to be a little more public than other birthdays and are also filled with lots of people saying things like “Oh wow I didn’t know you were that old” or “wow you look great for” whatever advanced age you are hitting! So banner birthdays often make us reflect back on our lives, which can be positive, or not, depending on our own perspective. I chose the word “banner” intentionally, because it means “successful!” I choose to see these birthdays as a celebration of decade well lived! Too many folks I know, however, are suffering unnecessarily from the “Should Haves!”
Oh you know what I mean! I’m (insert age here) and I had all these things planned and why don’t I have them? I should have a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, by now! I should have kids or a fiance or I should have finished college/grad school already. I should have been married by now! I should have more money and less debt. I should have my life together, really together, by now!
Why should you? Who says? I mean really. Maybe the path you are on right now, with all its twists and turns, is exactly the path you are meant to be on!
The only person you need to compare yourself to is you. Oh sure it looks like other people have it so easy, but they may be keeping it all in, faking it, worrying about what you would think if you knew how things really were. So why don’t you just give yourself a break and not worry about how your life SEEMS on the outside and instead make sure you are enjoying it on the inside.
Yes, you’ve had your struggles. We all have but you can’t say yours are harder than everyone else’s. The worst thing that happened to someone else is still the worst thing that ever happened to them regardless of how you think it compares to your problems. We all have our own pain. We all have our own burdens. You can’t compare how you’ve handled yours to how someone else has handles theirs because you can never truly understand theirs. We have just got to trust that we are all doing the best we can with what we have, no judgment, just encouragement!
And that means no judgment of yourself either. Are you doing a little better today than you did yesterday! Yes? Well there, that’s success! There is no should have. If you really should have done it, if it was really meant to be, you would have. You didn’t because it’s not your time yet. The job that was meant for you, the person that was meant for you, those goals you have, they will come when the time is right! You may have lessons to learn and lessons to teach and things to experience beforehand! You just have to trust that. You just have to trust you.
Dates and times are irrelevant! Imagine if we all lived by a set schedule like that. We were all done with college at exactly the same age, married at exactly the same age, had 2.5 children exactly 2.5 years apart, all had the job we wanted and the home we dreamed of at exactly the same time and age. Just imagine how horribly, horribly boring that would be!
So if you’ve got a banner birthday this year, how about focusing on the positive things instead of all the things you haven’t done! You are 30, 40, or 50. What have you survived? What have you overcome? What HAVE you accomplished?
Maybe you’ve managed to pay your bills by tending bar and still gotten through half of grad school with a great GPA. No, you aren’t finished yet, but damn it look how far you’ve come! Or maybe you are just now filling out an application to start college in middle age! You are truly inspiring! Maybe you are a veteran and you are struggling, instead of focusing on that, let’s remember you survived a god damn war for goodness sake, you can get through this! Maybe you aren’t married or engaged but you’ve survived a horrible heartbreak with dignity and hope! Go you!!! Maybe you are struggling with addiction, and you survived another day clean and sober! Excellent! Keep going!
I saw a great quote this morning “don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others.” Share your story. Other people need to hear it. Other people need to know they aren’t alone in their struggles either. Be proud of your story. It’s YOUR story and you know what, the end hasn’t been written yet, so make it awesome!
What else have you overcome? What else have you accomplished? How about making a gratitude list, I know it sounds cheesy, but it works. You’ve got too far in this life to linger on regrets! So celebrate this birthday not as the end of one decade but as the bright, clean, beautiful dawn of an entirely new decade with all the potential and promise it holds!
You are on the path you are meant to be on, trust that, and enjoy!