Thirty-one

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I turned thirty-one this week, and even though I’ve been wearing the number around for the past month or two, I’m still not totally used to it. I’ve felt both younger and older than my real age, but never completely on par with my peers. Maybe that’s part of being human, and since we are humans and not trees, birthdays must be our simplistic version of ring dating. The simplest way for us to measure our revolutions around the sun.

My friends were as incredible as always this week, and I walked away from brunch today feeling like I could just about shatter. I am easily overwhelmed by gratitude. At the backend of gratitude there’s a sadness, so that after a few hours of celebrating or spending quality time with family or friends, I often need to escape to be by myself.

Birthdays are difficult, especially the closer I get to the age when my mom died, which was thirty-eight. When another year passes, so does the gap between now and then, though in many ways, the loss is more acute with every life event. And maybe you feel this way, too, but when you lose a parent (or a close relative, or a close friend), you become hyperaware of your own mortality and the mortality of those you love (of the fleeting nature of all things, really). Intellectually, I know it’s unlikely I’ll die at the same age, but the number is mired in my identity. I’m not scared of dying, but I am scared of leaving too soon.

I don’t know where I thought I’d be at thirty-one, but I do remember, at the age of twenty-one, desperately wanting to feel good in my own skin, to trust myself, and hoping I’d get there in the next decade (I have–and that’s been the biggest victory of all). I hated to feel vulnerable (but have since learned to find freedom in vulnerability–second biggest victory). I didn’t know if I wanted children, or what that might look like, but I knew that family could stretch beyond our biological definition of the word, that it does take a village to raise a child (and it did). I wanted to experience, to see other parts of the world, to live. I was okay with not knowing or being able to explain most things, like our existence and what happens afterward, and I still am. My heart is full, and that much is true. Also, it’s enough.

  • Natalia

    This was beautifully written. Raw and honest. I relate so much to this post. All of it really….. Once again, happy birthday my dear, sweet, courageous friend who is turning into such a marvelous woman each day! <3

    • Jacqui

      Thanks, Nat~ was a little nervous about it, so I’m glad you could relate. Can’t wait to catch up in person. xx

  • Nikoline

    Love your honesty and writing. I’m sure your 21 year old self would be in awe of what you’ve experienced this last decade. I can’t wait to see what this next decade will bring!

  • Habiba

    You are so wonderfully wonderful. It was so good to see you, my darling.

  • Sewon

    Glad I came to visit your blog again, Jacqui. Here’s to your 31st year and many more to come!

  • Destiny

    Who really knows where they’ll end up? Embracing the journey, as you clearly have, is the biggest challenge. It’s both the most rewarding and the most difficult thing to do, especially if you end up places you weren’t expecting. I’m come to appreciate it, but boy, it takes time. Welcome to 31! This year and those to come are sure to be better than those that have come before. Here’s to striving and thriving always!