The myth of the milestone
I have been 30 years old for just over a week now. Throughout my mid and late twenties, the big 3-0 hung ominously in front of me. I always thought it would be the one that would mark the end or the beginning of some as-yet-undefined era. But, really, it means stuff all!
We all know about the milestone birthdays – the ones that either society has deemed important (16, 21, 55), or the ones that end in zero (20, 40, 60). As for the former, there’s usually a tangible change attached to your age like reaching the legal age of sexual consent, getting your drivers’ licence, or qualifying for retirement. But the zero’s? There is always a weird expectation for ‘something’ to happen when your birthday ends in a zero. The truth is nothing will happen unless you make it happen.
I have realised now that age is all perception, and for this ‘milestone’ birthday I wanted to prove it. This year there was no expensive party, or lavish gifts… there wasn’t even a cake! I just took the day off work and – apart from the surprise spa visit that my husband organised for me – I spent the whole day at home, writing for my blogs and preparing to publish the first episode of this site’s podcast. In fact, I was in bed and fast asleep by 11pm.
It was my best birthday ever.
And you know what? The next day I actually did wake up feeling different, but it wasn’t because turning 30 had changed me. It was because I realised that I had managed to change myself – that I have the power, at any given moment, to change myself. It could just as well have been my 29th birthday, or my 33rd. But the point is I decided that I didn’t need the guests and the attention and the party and the presents and the big fuss. I was ok with me. I was ok with 30-year-old me. And I know I have it in me to be ok with 40-year-old me or 60-year-old me when I finally get there.
But the whole non-celebration thing was really just a symbol for something much bigger. This time last year, I was a shadow of myself today… stressed out, unhealthy, and in almost a perpetual state of depression. But I turned it around. I got through it. Me. I did that. It had nothing to do with age, or the flipping of some magical milestone birthday switch. It’s just a lucky stroke of coincidence that my 30th birthday found me on the other side of a really tough time in my life.
The lesson it taught me is that we are always enough and we are always worthy. Every day you deserve that extra bit of effort from yourself. Whether it’s the effort to get up and get to gym, or the effort to stop complaining and try to be grateful for what you have, or whatever the change is that you need to make in your life.
Every single day is just a milestone waiting to happen.
Image: hans64-kjz (c)