I low-key despise people who post ‘Happy Birthday’ messages to themselves on social media, because they’re obviously fishing for compliments. But this post is essentially the same thing. Don’t judge me for judging or being a total hypocrite.
32 was the year of my life that made the most sense. Most of it has fallen in 2017, the second year of my full-time freelance journey, and the first in which I can identify some level of success. I started out the year with a list of macro-goals, and each month, I’ve broken those down into micro-goals, many of which I’ve not met (i.e. finishing my novel-a micro-goal on my list for at least 5 months before completion). But regardless of how those goals have shifted and changed, and regardless of how many times I’ve haven’t achieved them, I feel I have a true understanding of how I’ve spent my time this year.
32 was also the year I got married and became a fully domesticated man who enjoys Sundays at Whole Foods and Target, cooking General Tso’s chicken in a wok, and complaining about the cleaning lady.
32 was the year in which my definition of family changed. I have one of my own now, which I hope will grow in the next few years. I grew closer to my mother after a month in Florida helping her recover from back surgery. And we were already close, so now we’re as connected as a mother and son can be without smothering one another.
32 was a year I saw more of the world than I’d seen in my entire life. And I loved every minute of it. Exploring cultures I’d obsessed over and ones I knew little about informed my world perspective in ways I never could’ve imagined.
32 was a year that tested my faith in America. Don’t worry-I’m not about to embark on a political rant. But regardless of which side of the line you fall on, we’ve seen some dark times in the past year. And it’s impossible to think about my 32nd year of life without thinking about the election, the Russia investigation, the looming threat of nuclear war with North Korea, terrorism across Europe, Charlottesville, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, natural disasters here at home, in the Caribbean, and Mexico, etc. I’d rather not think about these people and things in reference to what was otherwise a damn good year of my life. But I don’t have that option. No matter how good my year was, some darkness will be forever woven into the fabric of 32.
32 was a year that forced me to face some truths about myself. I don’t take feedback well, at least when it’s about my writing (I’m working on it). I cherish alone time and have absolutely no desire to be a part of a professional team. I’ve got more in common with the free-spirited hippie than I ever thought. I have issues finishing the personal work I start (typical creative). And I’m doing what I was always meant to do, or at least, I’m getting close.
As far as 33 goes, there’s a few things I need to remember. So, if anything, this blog post is less a self-congratulatory grab for birthday attention and more a list of reminders for the tough times I’ll face as I journey toward 34:
1. Stop writing in the apartment all day long. It’s boring, isolating, and the big monitor makes your eyes tired. Write at Gregory Coffee instead. You can work outdoors, and you can steal free Wi-Fi from WeWork.
2. Don’t sit all day. There were tons of “studies” this year that show sitting all day can reduce your life expectancy, even if you’re as ripped as Lawrence and Daniel from Insecure. So, work standing up a few times a day.
3. Eat more protein and less refined carbs. Your 2018 summer body will thank you later.
4. Work on one creative project at a time. There’s no way you’ll finish a novel, a book proposal, a song, a short story, and a 10-part essay collection/art exhibit in one month. Stop being so ridiculous.
5. Text and call your friends. Go to happy hour. Have human contact. It will keep you sane.
6. Stop checking work emails after 7 p.m. Earlier if you can. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re always working, and you’ll resent your job—which you’re supposed to love.
7. Don’t use social media every day. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t post. Instead of retaking a selfie or rewriting a Facebook post, you could be editing your novel or starting a new personal, creative project. Put that energy to good use.
8. Take more weekend trips. You aren’t bound to New York City. If you had things your way, you’d pack up and leave soon. But since you aren’t leaving, the next best thing is getting away whenever you can. Philly, P-town, Boston, Boise, wherever. Just get outta here. (Hubby will appreciate it.)
9. Make a song. At least one. Even if it’s a bad one. You’re still a songwriter at heart, and you’ve been churning out hits that barely anyone has heard since the 4th grade. You’ve got some melodies in there. Get something on record this year. Please.
10. Be grateful. Sure, that client might have been an asshole. Or you didn’t agree with the edits on that piece. Or you’re sad that a long-term contract is over. But you have steady work and you’re your own boss. You wanted to be a writer, and you are one. Relish that—the good and the bad parts. Celebrate it. Love it. Always be grateful.
If 32 was any indication, 33 will be a fine year. More focused, more goal-oriented, more people-centric, more creative than the last. Topping 32 will be a tough act but I’m up for the challenge. Happy Birthday, me!