Happy Birthday to Me!
In case you didn't know, it's my birthday. I'm 33.
When I started this blog, I was 23. Looking back at some of the early posts is fascinating. I think I was lighthearted, funnier, and definitely more succinct then. I posted a lot more pictures, and I was specific in my "Thing I'm thankful for" segment.
Oh, how time has changed me. I think what everyone thinks when they reflect on the past: I never imagined I'd be where I am or who I am. I never imagined I'd be living in California and working in Silicon Valley. People think that's neat, and I guess it is, but it's . . . different. What did I expect? I certainly expected to be married at this point, and I certainly expected to have a few children. I expected to be a full-time mom and a part-time editor, working at night after the kids had gone to bed. Beyond that, I had no expectations.
This year has been really hard for me. I've written a thesis, moved four times, been rejected from a number of companies, experienced two failed dating relationships, gotten in loads of arguments with my parents, and went further into debt. (Thank you, new car!) It's arguably been the worst year of my life.
And yet. My faith in God is at an all-time high. My understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been strengthened, and I am capable of more love and more forgiveness and more empathy than I ever thought possible. When I think about the black-and-white approach to life I had as a kid, I have to chuckle to myself -- that girl really needed to go! Now, there is a softness to my thoughts and a complexity of feeling that hasn't just come with time, but with the experience of hard things, and I expect that to be more true in another ten years.
I don't think I'm a better person now than I would have been if my expectations had been met, and in writing all of this, I'm not pretending that my life was always meant to turn out this way or that everything happens for the best. I do think, though, that I'm a much more interesting person now than I would have been, and I'd bet a million bucks that I have a much better perspective on agency and atonement than I would have had. Is that worth it? Are those things worth the unmet expectations? I don't know. But I hope so.
Here's something else: My expectations have changed. Rather, my dreams have changed. Sure, I want to be married, and I want to have a bunch of kids running around making noise and fighting with each other and coloring on walls and making messes in the kitchen. But I also want to open a bakery. And I want to write a book. And I want to have a podcast in which I interview people with ordinary lives. I want to continue blogging for another ten years, I want to learn German, and I want to taste Swiss chocolate in Switzerland.
If, at 43, I've blogged about those things, I'll be happy. If not, I'm sure I'll at least be more interesting.
Thing I'm thankful for: Marcia and Brook