It’s my birthday today. Don’t get excited. I have one every year. You do too. Most people celebrate the event in some way, even if it’s just smiling when someone remembers to say Happy Birthday.
I don’t do much on my birthday, generally, but I do think of that day as “my day”. I treat myself better, perhaps, than on any other day. I walk around thinking, “It’s my birthday, and I’ll do what I want to” (semi-set to the tune in my head of the old Lesley Gore song, “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to). Today, Gail and I will celebrate by eating out at a restaurant I’ve been dying to go to, Fiery Crab. I hear it’s a little pricey, but hey…it’s my birthday and I’ll do what I want to, ya know?
Anyway, of course, my birthday always comes almost at the end of each year. So it tends to be a good time for both reflection and looking forward. I’m really not much of a reflection kind of gal, but I occasionally let my mind wander down through the past.
I’m getting to that age now where there’s a lot more to reflect upon than there is to look forward to. I’m 63 today, in case anyone wondered. Sure, I might live another 20+ years, but there’s a decent chance I’ll only have a handful more. Who knows, but the clock is definitely winding down much more quickly these days.
I’m finding that my memory is definitely being affected, as might be expected. So even things that happened this year may not be as clear in my mind as they would have in years past. Still, this year had enough of an impact on me that I do remember some things perhaps more than I’d like.
Cut to the quick
This was a year when my feelings got hurt. A lot. This was work-related, and I can’t really discuss it, but I was made to feel worthless. I cried. A lot. I wondered if my time here was up. It was rough.
I’m still teetering on the edge of that trauma, but my feet are still walking, my heart is still beating, and my confidence in myself has started to return.
I try to remember that even if I end up actually being “not good enough” at work, that still wouldn’t be a reflection on all the rest of me. Of course, so much of me is intertwined with what I do. What I do at work comes from within me. So separating the “work me” from the “me me” is convoluted and tricky. And that’s the point I’m trying to get to. Who am I, really?
What is Reality?
See the image at the top of this post? I created it to signify that I – we – can create ourselves and our worlds, and we have the ability to do that all the time. We may choose not to, but we absolutely can.
I’m not saying I can create my world that is filled with gold, diamonds, and mansions in the sky. But I can create an environment around me that feels the way I want it to feel. I can create myself and recreate myself again and again and again.
At some point in my life:
- I was the perfect child.
- I was the rebellious teen.
- I was the weirdo.
- I was the nerd.
- I was the brainiac.
- I was the stoner.
- I was the stepmom.
- I was the lover.
- I was the bad cook.
- I was the coder.
- I was the SEO.
- I was the writer.
- I was the grandmother.
- I was the better cook.
- I was the wife.
- I was the caregiver.
I’ve been many things. I’ve been many people. I’ve reinvented myself time and time again to be the person I wanted or needed to be in that moment. Of course, these things weren’t necessarily distinct. I’ve been this and that and the other thing, all at the same time. And none of it was ever a lie. It was me. All me. And all the future me(s) will be me as well.
So who will I be next year? I assume I’ll continue to be the wife, the mom, the grandmother, and the writer. Those seem fairly obvious. But I think I’ll dip the virtual paintbrush into the imaginary colors of life and paint a new face on myself. Or draw a new environment. Or just recreate the Donna that I am right now.
I don’t know what that will look like. But I know that reality is what I make of it. I guess that means that in 2023, I’ll be a maker. A creator. An artist of life. And perhaps, a new Donna.
What will your reality look like? Who will you be in 2023?