Thursday, July 30, 2009
It's the morning after my 27th birthday. My day has begun as I often like to begin the day of my birthday--I woke up before dawn and am taking my time to think about the trajectory of my life.
It is a little crazy that I have now had enough birthdays that I have developed my own personal preference for birthday ritual. I generally have an intimate dinner with friends, I afford myself a bit of personal indulgence (take a "me" day. This year it will be on Saturday. I have already planned a yoga class, some art time, and maybe a little hike.), and call my parents.
I am now 27. It doesn't really feel any different. In fact, I often barely feel much older than 18 (and yet am perpetually 40). Now I have the benefit of hindsight. 10 years ago today, I had just graduated from high school and was on BYU campus starting as a freshman summer term. I was eager to get on with life and didn't want to spend an entire summer at home. I couldn't wait to get college over with and really "start" my life.
In the eyes of 17 year old John, this would be the year I hopefully finished my Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology. I was nervous about being able to provide for a family while in grad school. Like any good Mormon, I expected to be married by now, with perhaps one or two children. I was nervous and excited about serving a mission. I thought of myself as a great counselor to those around me. I was thrilled by my new-found freedom of being away from home. That summer was actually probably the most fun summer I have ever had. My friends and I stayed out until all hours--having impromptu concerts in front of the dorms, driving out to Bridal Veil Falls in the middle of the night, going to the 24-hour grocery store for early-morning ice cream runs.
In some ways I wonder how much I have really changed. I feel like much the same person.
My life, however, is definitely nothing like what I imagined. The only thing that has turned out as I expected, was that I hoped at this point I would have made it back to southern California. Here I am. Living with my boyfriend and about to finish my third (fourth?) year of my master's degree . . . in advertising (?!). The ways that I choose to define myself are less concrete than at 17. I understand things about myself that I never could have anticipated. Nonetheless, in this relationship with Shane, I am pushing myself even more, confronting even more about myself and being forced to grow. Like anyone else who gets older, I can look back and say I thought I knew so much back then and realize now how little I took the time to really listen and try to understand.
Perhaps the greatest achievement I can lay claim to right now is that I am happy. I was taught as a child that true, life-giving, love-filled happiness is sign of a life lived rightly and goodly (proper use of adverbs, I swear). I hope and believe that is true. I know that I need to challenge myself more, to be more spiritually aware and live more mindfully, but I also have faith God will be patient with me and help me as I try to figure out the next steps of my life.
I am grateful for the friends I have made on this path of my life who have helped me become the person I am today and who have sustained me in difficult times. I wish they were all a constant part of my life, but life keeps us marching forward. I think we will be reunited.
When I woke up yesterday with an ache in my heart for my parents. Mom, if you read this, I love you and Dad both so much. I am the person I am today because of your influence and love. My birthday wish would have been to see you both and hug you. I hope I can do so soon.
. . . and now, it's time to get my butt in gear. I have been having the most amazing time writing this on the terrace with our flowers and the morning getting brighter (another grey day! My favorite! (I am serious)), but I have to commute to Venice.