This last birthday, my 28th, was rough.
That beautiful June day, I woke up at five in an anxious sweat, pulled on a sweater, climbed the hill, and watched the sun rise over the city. And although I knew that I should be relishing the wet dew of the morning, the apricot light glinting from the face of the Bow, and the fact that I managed to make it another year without pitching my life into total disaster, I sat on that hill and I cried and cried and cried.
I remember joking as a teenager that I’d never live past 27, because what was the point? All the greats die young, and I was certain I was meant to be great. On that hill, tear-stained and panicking, all the nasty little voices that like to hang out in my head repeated it again. My life is over. I wasted it. I’m used up. I missed all my chances.
I went back to bed. And I spent the entire day there, sleeping, thinking, and mourning. I mourned what I saw as a wasted youth. I mourned my ‘deteriorating’ looks. I mourned my worth as a human being – turns out that being cognizant of the fact that women are socialized to understand that our societal value (read: our fuckability) plummets after 20 doesn’t mean you’re immune to feeling like crap about it. I felt shoved off of a throne I didn’t even know I sat upon. I mourned opportunity. I mourned wonder.
Birthdays used to feel like a new opportunity, every new age a new identity to try out. Now they’re just terrifying. I used to laugh at women who dreaded getting older, chalking it up to vanity and frivolousness. Now I get it. I do.
When you’re young, you feel like you’re going to be young forever. And then one day, you’re not.