Yesterday was my fortieth birthday. I started celebrating it on Friday, when I made a decision. Saturday I made another, and got one of my presents. Something I’ve wanted for over thirty years. Sunday, I opened more presents and got hugs and kisses and forced myself to admit my own failures. And yesterday, a door opened and I ran through it.
I’m not being vague on purpose, I promise. The fact is the details in this case don’t matter. What does matter is the fact that for the first time in forty years, I finally not only put myself first, but didn’t feel guilty for doing so. And that, is the best gift anyone could have gotten me.
Years ago a woman who is both a friend and mentor told me to stop apologizing so much. My response was an apology. Yup-I apologized for apologizing. And instead of the lecture, was asked a simple question. “Why do you feel the need to apologize to yourself?”. This was asked by another dear friend and mentor-the spouse of the first. I looked at these two people-people who had lived through more in their lives than I would ever-and stopped. I wasn’t apologizing to myself, I thought.
Except I was. I was apologizing to myself and I’m ashamed to say it took fifteen years for me to finally stop apologizing to myself and be honest with myself. And that, is the best gift we can ever give anyone-especially ourselves. I consider it a part of my mental health journey to be able to be honest enough with myself and brave enough to admit to others some hard truths. And make some hard decisions that once made, actually were easy decisions as it help me put my priorities in order.
So today is the first day of my forty-first year on Earth and I’m excited to say it’s also the first day of a new adventure for me. Life is made up of adventures. Some bad, some good. My hopes is this adventure is a good one, and even if it isn’t I know it will be one of my own making.
Happy birthday to me.