Updated: Dec 4, 2018
So this time last week I was counting down the hours till my 23rd birthday. People around me had been asking me how I felt and what I was doing to celebrate and my answer remained pretty consistent each time: "I really don't care for my birthday this year and I just want it to pass."
Now this response is quite unusual coming from someone who each year goes above and beyond for their birthday. This, might I add, coming from the girl who last year planned 4 different birthday celebrations to ensure that all of my friends and family could be a part of the celebrations. I had something planned for each and every weekend of November last year, and yes I was very proud of it too! For me birthdays have always been a special time: a time of celebration, a time to spend time with friends and family, and most importantly: a time to remember that God has kept me alive to see the start of a brand new chapter of my life. But this year something was different. While I am of course, deeply appreciative of the fact that I have even made it to my 23rd birthday, I just didn't feel like celebrations were in order this year.
I did try to play it off, using the excuse of: "23 is an awkward year that's not really worth celebrating" or expressing that I simply wasn't in the mood to celebrate it this year; but in reality there was a deeper reason to my nonchalant response to a day I normally look forward to. Can I be honest with you for a second? Okay, let me keep it all the way REAL with you... I really feel like: birthdays are not only a celebration of life, but also a celebration of progress made by an individual, and I genuinely felt like in the area of progress I had nothing to celebrate. Now, I know, I know, you may be reading this and thinking: HOW, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY?! You may even look at all that I've done since turning 22 and think that I've made an immense amount of progress, but when you're in a place where you just feel like you're not doing enough, it's hard to put things into perspective without it all being clouded with emotion.
In my case, I do recognise and truly appreciate the numerous things that I have been blessed enough to achieve this past year: from a university tour to winning an award, from leaving my job to meeting some of the most incredible people, the lead up to 23 has certainly been an amazing one. But when I look at my life at a more microscopic level the questions ring loud: "but what have you really achieved? What have you really done? How have you really made an impact? And probably the biggest question: where is your harvest from all that you have both sacrificed and sown? In short, where is the money?! Why doesn't your bank account reflect the sheer amount of hard work and dedication you put into everything you do? Ultimately, I just didn't feel like I had done enough to warrant a celebration. As I got closer and closer to my birthday I just didn't feel worthy of celebrating, yes I am alive which is undoubtedly the biggest blessing from God himself, but why do I feel like my body and my bank account hasn't caught up to the space my brain seems to be in already? Why does it feel like my hard work is not amounting to anything? Now, please don't assume that I wrote this post just to complain and say 'woe is me'. In fact, quite the opposite, I just wanted to express what I was genuinely feeling in the lead up to my birthday and to show you that despite what is seemingly happening from the outside, it's important that the inside is aligned.
And yet, just when I thought I had made my mind up regarding myself and my birthday, I was still reminded that God isn't finished with me just yet.
It was the day before my birthday when I was at church and it was like the Holy Spirit slapped me in the face and made me realise that I had been focusing on all the wrong things! In my mind I was certain that I hadn't moved forward, forgetting that I have grown. While I thought my hard work was going unnoticed, I had forgotten that I was being sharpened. While I felt like I was actually being pulled back, like a bow and arrow, I was being pulled back in order to be launched forward. The way I was looking at everything was so wrong and it was time that I renewed my mind...
By the time it hit 12am, I was celebrating with my sister (who is also born on the same day) and choosing to be grateful for everything I do have (which is so much), rather than focusing on what I don't have. That shift in mindset changed the trajectory of my entire day; it was the intentional mindset shift that was necessary for me to come out of a place of self-pity. Either I was going to feel sorry for myself or I was going to walk into my birthday with peace and joy... I chose the latter!
If there's one thing I've learnt about this journey we call life is that it's not easy. Especially not this part: the in between part where all the hard work happens and you don't always get rewarded in a way that equates to all the hard work you're putting in. But as I always say to people at my talks: "if you don't want to be mediocre nor live a mediocre life you have to be willing to put the work in..." and you have to willing to put that work in even when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I made a decision about the kind of life I wanted to live: one where I fulfil purpose and I serve others so I have to keep going, YOU have to keep going, WE have to keep going! We don't stop until we've reached our goals, and when we do, that success will taste just that little bit sweeter. We have to keep walking by faith... ultimately we have to be willing to see beyond sight.
Dress: Pretty Little Thing
Shoes: River Island