Happy Birthday to Me

Illustration by Heather Ratcliff, www.stayweirdbekind.com

My birthday is in an hour. It feels really anti-climactic and...weird this year. Part of it is that I'm working a 3-day overnight stretch, so I'll be sleeping or commuting through what I'm not working. Another part of it is that I'll be postponing the celebration because of work and my niece's birthday being this week as well. I'm excited for her party, though.

This one, 32, sorta snuck up on me. Something about the age, the moment, the circumstance is bringing a melancholic loneliness out in me. There's a question nagging at me that I can't articulate, so instead of wrestling with a question without an answer, I just feel the emotional phantom of unansweredness. 

I'm holding back. That's not what this is supposed to be. I'm holding back in what I'm saying and I'm holding back in what I'm thinking.

I had a friend reach out today and say nice things about my blog, the work I'm putting into it, the impact it's having on people. It swept away that melancholy like a light chases away dark. I found myself at the center of a glow that my darkness had to respect. That felt lovely, really lovely. 

When I went away to Europe, and then when I first started vet school, I used to send long detailed emails to my entire email list about my experiences. I'd bare my true feelings and insecurities, and struggles right along with the joys. Right now, I cringe at how hokey and self-absorbed it was. But I liked that unabashed, outward blast of honesty more than I like the calculated, curated self I share these days. I've hidden behind the cowl of "growing up" when in, in fact, I've been clamming up. I've crossed from being private to being guarded. 

I've retreated into myself a lot, and it feels uncomfortable. I've also lost my way a bit, become stagnant. I'm working on that, successfully, so there's that. It's a crux moment - what am I going after?  

Addendum: My coworkers were very sweet and threw me impromptu birthday parties!