Today I am 34 years-old. It’s not old but it’s not necessarily young either. I have to admit, this one has been a little hard for me. As this birthday approached, I kept thinking, “What if I die at 68? Have I already lived half my life?”
I suffer from the never-enough syndrome: I am not healthy enough; I am not pretty enough; I don’t take care of myself enough; there’s never enough time; I have not done enough, succeeded enough; I am not enough. And so I’m afraid that if my life is halfway over, what have I really done? Who have I become? Do I have enough life left to do the things I want to do and become the person I want to be?
I didn’t know it till recently but I had this unconscious idea of who I would be by 35. I never would have admitted that I had a plan but now that I’m almost 35, I am realizing it was there all along: I was supposed to be a well-respected working artist with money.
I opted to take a path where merit means less than in most careers. It doesn’t matter how talented I am, I still need a B-job to support my art (at least for now). I am mostly okay with not going into a more predictable career. I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer and if I did do any of those things, it would purely be for security and money. That’s just true for me. More power to the people who took those paths because they wanted to.
My path, though, has made me work two jobs my whole life, sometimes more. One to pay the rent and one to feed my soul. And because of that, my life has sometimes meant coming home or not coming home from work to go to work. There have been lots of sacrifices besides money, like times when I couldn’t go out with friends, and whole weeks where I’d go without having dinner or going to bed with Michael. People have mostly understood that, and those that haven’t aren’t around anymore.
And I truly believed that this path I took would be worth it because I would get the results I wanted by, like I said, 35. But now that I’m here at 34 and sure, a little saddened by the realization that things don’t always (often do not) work out as planned, I am also beginning to realize…
It’s the path that mattered all along.
You hear this kind of thing all the time:
And I don’t know about you but I always thought it was bullshit. I’ve run through life wanting to one day get to the finish line and say, “I HAVE ARRIVED!” But each year, I learn some things that make me think, “Oh, I’m not there yet. I’ve still got so much more to learn.”
I listen to a lot of interviews on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, mostly by actors/directors/writers I really like and have been working forever, like Ron Howard, Alan Alda, and Sir Patrick Stewart. These are not “young” guys. However, what really strikes me about all of them is that despite their age and experience, they are still learning and are excited to still be doing so.
Ever meet those old(er) people who are willing to try anything? Those people are my heroes. Their willingness to try new things tells me that, despite their years on this earth, they don’t presume to know everything about life and the world. They know there’s still so much mystery left on this earth and their curiosity gives them the energy to explore.
That’s they key I guess: maintaining curiosity.
I want to be one of those old people. Year after year when things don’t turn out as planned, I want to take a bird’s eye view and stop looking at the things I haven’t done/seen, but the things I have.
So, what I did I do at 33?
- I traveled across the country and showed my film in several cities, meeting new people, and continuing the conversation about mental health.
- That film became available on VOD.
- I helped raise over a million dollars for a good cause.
- My family grew.
- I saw a lot of sunrises because I got up early to write on this blog, and to work on a feature screenplay, a short play, and a web series (the last two I will produce this year).
And a lot of other things that I didn’t Instagram.
Is that enough? It can be.
What did I learn?
- Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
- I have amazing people in my life and I’m being introduced to more and more all the time.
- I can do bigger things than I thought I could. I have more skills than I give myself credit for.
- I’m a writer too.
- The clouds are 3D.
And a lot of other things that aren’t in my awareness at the moment.
Is that enough? It can be.
And if I let it be so, it is enough.
Where will I be by this year’s end, or the one after that, or the one after that? Apparently, I have no idea. But I’m actually really excited, and a little scared, to see.
Here’s to age 34, and to having no fucking clue what it will look like.
PS- I look forward to the day when I read this post and laugh my ass off.