The Project

Birthdays Always Make You Think…

“I thought I would have ______ by this age”

“Uh oh, only ____ good years left”

“Hey, I look/feel pretty good!” (hopefully!)

Our thoughts and feelings about birthdays have a lot to do with how our culture and society views getting older.  We focus on “losing our youth”, whether we have wrinkles or grey hair, and trying to find out if we’re “normal” compared to others our age.  This is often when we do an appraisal of our life, usually measured by a timeline or scale set by standards that aren’t our own (i.e. when we “should” get married, have kids, go to school, pick a career, etc.).  It doesn’t help that we have perfectly-curated windows into other peoples’ lives through social media that can make our self-assessment even more skewed toward the negative.

For me, turning 30 on September 6, 2019 doesn’t make me feel old, scared, or nervous.  I often joke that I’ve been waiting to be in my thirties my whole life – a cliched “old soul” – so it’s not a number that I view negatively.  However, given that self-assessment is in my Top Five Skills (more on that to come!), I can’t help but reflect on who I’ve been with a “2” in front of my age and who I want to be when that “3” comes around.

I can give myself credit for accomplishing several things in my twenties – graduating college, living in 3 different states, being financially independent, finding a good job, adopting a dog, and having a healthy and supportive relationship.  These are important things that each took (and continue to take) commitment, work, and time.  I’m grateful to be where I am and have the privileges that I do.

However, there are MANY ways in which I continue to hold myself back and stay in the most dangerous place of all – my comfort zone.  As someone who has lived with an anxiety disorder for almost 10 years, it takes a LOT of effort to work through fear and “the unknown”.  I’ve chosen to skip social events, new activities, professional advancements, and more due to being anxious, afraid, and unsure.  This wasn’t always the case – unfortunately most of my issues cropped up when I started college and entered the “best years of your life!”, a saying that can only inspire pressure to live up to the social expectations.  The reality for many of us (especially in my generation) is that our twenties are confusing, awkward, stressful, lonely, disappointing, pressure-filled, and not ones we would willingly repeat.

With that in mind, I started thinking of the habits, beliefs, and actions that I want to leave behind in this decade – but more importantly, what do I want to do or start now in order to start that milestone year swinging? What are my larger values, priorities, and goals and how have they changed over time? Who am I now compared to when I was about to turn 20? How have I held myself back and what can I do about it?

Confession time – I am a major list maker.  So I started to do what I know best and list out some of the answers to these questions as well as specific actions or things I wanted to accomplish.  As the list grew, I started thinking that I would need some major accountability help in order to start crossing off instead of adding items.

Here’s where you come in!

A little backstory: I stumbled upon the website Hello Fears after watching founder Michelle Poler’s TED Talk in late 2017; she was capping off a “100 Fears in 100 Days” project that she self-designed to intentionally put her out of her comfort zone and confront her fears.  Besides relating to so much of what she was talking about, I was struck by how her fear-facing inspired others to act in their own lives, on large (coming out to a family member) and small (getting a major haircut) scales.  It’s scary just to put out into the world that you ARE scared, let alone act on it – I was inspired too, but not enough to do something about it then.

So – am I now 100% ready to share my fears, insecurities, imperfections, hopes, dreams, and goals with the world? Nope! But the truth is, I will NEVER be 100% ready to do that, or anything else for that matter. What I AM ready to do is reflect, plan, and act in order to leave behind what I no longer need and enter my next decade stronger, healthier, clearer, and more purposefully.  If that involves potentially embarrassing myself on the Internet, then so be it! And if even 1 person finds this blog helpful in creating positive change in their own lives, it will be 100% worth it.

If I haven’t lost you yet, please check out THE GOALS page where I will be updating my list of 30 goals as the year goes on.  I will also be elaborating on each goal in the Blog, so be sure to click “Follow” if you want to keep tabs on how I’m doing – I would also love to hear from you by sending me a note through the Contact Me page! Let me know if you have your own projects in the works or if you need some help putting your thoughts together. I do love a good list-making session 🙂

Until next time…

-Amanda