My birthday was one week ago today and I turned 28. Normally I don’t take much stock in age, but this year’s birthday was different.*
Rather than making a big hoopla, I didn’t tell many friends and I even temporarily de-activated my Facebook prior to the big day to savor it as a quiet time for me.
I spent October 10th galavanting about in my birthday suit during my very first experience as an art model for a high-level drawing class (more on that in a future post!) and then throwing on a bathing suit and shorts for my first experience stand-up paddle boarding on Town Lake. The day was made even better by a scrumptious picnic and birthday cupcakes provided by Yair and, earlier that week, I was treated to an incredible day of surprises during a pre-birthday excursion to San Antonio with Daniel.
But later that night, as I took a quiet evening for reflection, it hit me: 28. Holy sh**!
I had officially entered my late 20s and had not at all mentally prepared for that shift. Whereas it seemed to me that 27 was a mature 25, still in the heart of my 20s but with the experience and wisdom (sort of) to guide the younger folks, 28 presented itself as practically pre-30. In a way, this new age seemed to usher me from the “21-27” six-year period of first job, living on my own, traveling, circus arts and my first real relationship (and marriage!) to a “28-34” six-year period that will likely include selecting a life partner, deepening my career, starting a family and raising children. Wild.
I think another reason why this hit me is because – though I don’t care much about societal expectations – a small part of me totally does! I kind of liked being the “hotshot” 27-year-old who was ahead of the curve with successful projects, quasi-professional hobbies, mini-retirements, etc. rather than the 28-year-old who could be in a similar place as her peers or even ‘behind the curve’ if you throw in the societal expectation that one be settled down by now. (Unless all of this is in my head!)
It feels really good to say and to know that I wouldn’t change anything about my life. “0-27” have been fun, mindful, challenging, joyful, accomplishing and character-building years, and I particularly feel that I could not have spent my early and mid 20s any better.
The interesting thing is that I wouldn’t change my future plans, either. I’m delighted to be moving to Jerusalem, to be closer to my family, to immerse in a spiritual Jewish community, to have a meaningful job on a flexible schedule lined up and to have an acroyoga class ready for me to teach. So this isn’t a pre-30 crisis as I know myself deeply, and I have my priorities straight. It is, however, still a big mental adjustment!
It’s funny because I thought that these were new feelings brought on by 28, but my friend Sway informed me that we had the same conversation last year when I turned 27 and thought that 27 meant all of these life-shifting things. Ha!
Though it sounds vain, part of my 28 transition is wrapping my head around the idea that I will age. I’m not invincible or immortal. And while I don’t like the idea of growing older in certain ways, I will embrace the transition because it is inevitable – and I simultaneously hope to seize every moment and opportunity that I can, and appreciate the vivacity, fitness and youthful beauty that I have while I still have it.
I’ve actually already started noticing differences in my perspective. Last Saturday night, I attended a blues dance / pool party. But the heater for the hot tub and pool were broken, the weather had gotten cold and it started to rain. But no matter! I changed into my swimsuit, immersed in the water, and swam and danced and felt the droplets on my face and it was good to be alive. And, the thing is, if the party was the prior week, I probably wouldn’t have gone in the water. It was prompted by the seize-the-moment “28” reflection, so 28 – here I come!
And, on the note of embracing youthfulness while I have it, I held multiple handstands in other people’s hands last night, nailed some wild new acro moves that I needed to be really brave for (I’m very risk-averse when it comes to physical safety) and I was asked two weeks in a row to guest lead dances in the local Latina women’s zumba class. So, yeah for being badass! Now you go do something cool and exhilarating (by your own standards and no one else’s!)!
* Parenthetically, though I enjoy birthday celebrations, it’s fun to think about these days as celebrations of our solar returns. Instead of ‘happy birthday’, perhaps an appropriate greeting could be: “Hey man, props on sticking around for yet another orbit of our earth’s sun!”
posted by ayo