This week I turned 32. It was also the first year that I wasn't insisting on some sort of a hull-a-balloo around celebrations. Normally, I'm pro-birthdays. I want you to know its my birthday, that it's my day of fun and presents and I like receiving "Happy Birthday!" sentiments from all around me.
This year was a little different. I wasn't pushed on celebrating or marking the day in any way shape or form. By midday on May 19th, my mum had flown home to Ireland and the boy was still in work. I was on my own, in our lovely little flat and I was ok with that. My celebration of choice was to sit on our balcony and enjoy the sunshine that the city was basking in. I grabbed a book I head been meaning to finish and threw a pizza in the oven. And so, my 32nd birthday was marked by being quiet, listening to the chirping of the birds around me and the chatter of builders as they worked on another apartment near by. It was nice and it was still.
Later in the day, the boy brought home a Victoria sponge cake and I coaxed him into singing 'Happy Birthday' to me. He made me a cup of tea (a rare occurrence in our apartment) and presented me with a slice of cake. No candles to blow out, no cheers from anyone afterwards. It was simple, it was fine and it tasted good. Increasingly, I'm finding that as I get older I want less fuss, less chat even. Sometimes, I'm happiest just sitting in nice spaces or places and watching the world go by and more often than not I prefer my own company, answering to no one other than myself.
Perhaps this is what they mean when they say you get grumpier with age. Perhaps I'm moving in that direction? I'm still sociable of course, I still want to get to know other people I'm just more selective about who that is. It's a growing confidence that I certainly lacked in my forming years. I was concerned for many a time about the thoughts and opinions of others. How they viewed me was somehow important. Did they like me? Did I fit in with them? Age has proved to me, thankfully, it's not in the slightest bit important and as Dr.Seuss has told us time and time again 'Those that matter, don't mind and those that mind, don't matter.'
At 32, I look back at being 22 and think "WTF were you thinking when you decided or thought X,Y,Z??". So many of my decisions were based on what I thought other people wanted or what I thought was the so called 'right' or 'sensible' thing to do. After my degree, I literally packed up my degree show and took up another summer job at home like I did every summer. I never once travelled during those summers, I never experienced a J1 or inter railing. It was all college, work, eat and sleep with no time for some travelling or fun in between. Shortly after, I remember applying and getting a position on a highly sought after Art teacher training course because it was the 'sensible thing' to do. I completed the course. 10 years on, I'm not an Art teacher.
I wanted to travel to South Korea after teaching training with a friend I made on the course. I was offered the interview and didn't go, because I was told by another person it was "crazy to just leave and up sticks!". Looking back, they hadn't my best interests at heart. A nice, supportive person would have encouraged me to go. The friend on the other hand, she went, stayed for three years and I vicariously lived my life through her Facebook images. I still regret that decision. I regret that decision a lot. Instead, I got a job. I did the sensible thing. I worked and I got promoted a few times and got paid accordingly. But...but I was miserable.
On turning 32, I look back and think I could have made a heap of better decisions if only I had that Dr.Seuss quote down to a T. Had I the ability to harness that confidence, perhaps things would have turned out differently and a different story could have been told and written. Inevitably it would have meant not meeting certain people currently in my life, the boy for one - but still, that one or two year long trip around South Korea would have been pretty amazeballs, no?
Here's to being 32. Here's to being alive, well and having enough money to pay the rent and bills but not necessarily enough to book a holiday or the Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette I really want!
How do you feel about getting older?
....and P.S if you're 22, go travel!