Each year, on the eve of my birthday, I look back on the year that’s been and think about what I want to focus on in the year that’s ahead of me. When I turned 27 I wanted yoga, literature, and plants. When I turned 28 I concluded that at least there had been a lot of plants, but yoga and literature had to give way to buying and decorating my first flat, finishing two half maras, and getting to know the person who turned out to be my Big Love™. When I turned 29 I looked back at a pretty difficult year and as a result, my focus for the coming year was exercise, zen, focus, and resilience. The reasoning was obvious: I wanted to attain and maintain the tools that would allow me to deal with the kind of adversity I’d encountered throughout the past year.
Of course, life didn’t miraculously get better the day I turned 29. I relocated from Malmö to New York for three months, which was a dream come true, but once there I grappled with even more adversity in terms of housing, health, and relationships. It was hard. I pursued determination and stubbornness in a way I mistook for resilience, but it wasn’t resilience, it wasn’t helpful, and it certainly didn’t help me to achieve a state of zen.
Moving back to Malmö was a relief, and it offered comfort I hadn’t really experienced before. Although I’ve moved a lot, I’ve never before “moved back home”. I started to focus on focusing, and things improved. A little at first, then a lot, and then all of a sudden it had been weeks and months(!) of me constantly experiencing a steady feeling of gratitude, calm, and certainty. Not in an overwhelming or ecstatic way, just in a calm and anchored way. For someone who has always felt unanchored and rootless, this has been a big milestone. I believe it’s the result of routines, good habits, and thought management. There are no shortcuts, you have to do the work to get the results you want.
I turn 30 tomorrow and I am so happy and proud of the work that I’ve done to get where I am. I remember exactly where I was, on many levels, when I turned 20. Geographically I was in Camden and Shoreditch, and spiritually and mentally I was unanchored, rootless, and confused in a big way. It would be several years before I started pursuing the chunks of work of thought management and self-worth that’s a big part of my life and the source of my success and happiness today.
It’s been a crazy year and an even crazier decade. It’s been a decade of putting things right and getting to know myself. Learning and enforcing boundaries, with others as well as myself. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve come to understand much better what makes me thrive, so that I can serve others. This is work in progress for sure, but I can’t think of a better place to be as I move into my 30s. I can’t be certain about where I’ll be when I turn 40 or even 31, but I hope that I’m in the same city with the same or more, just as lovely, people, and that we’re all growing together. Perhaps that’s asking for too much… But it’s what I will work for and towards, this next year, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on.
And the future is looking very bright indeed.