I turn 32 tomorrow.
I don’t feel any certain way about 32. I’m into it! It doesn’t feel “OMG old” to me. It feels good. I feel more comfortable and secure on the cusp of 32 than I ever have in my adult life.
The past year has been a major growth year for me. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out — or at least trying to figure out — what success means for me, and what I want my life to look like. I don’t have a blueprint for how my life looks over the next year, five years, 20 years. But I’m starting to identify what I want in life, what matters most to me, and who I want around me when great or less-great things come my way.
I’ve grown up a lot in the past year. I’ve done some pretty intense soul searching and deep diving into what kind of person I want to be. Every day, I keep a list of “3 Things I Did Well Today.” Some days my list grows to 10 things. Other days getting to three is a stretch, and things like “showered” and “woke up” make the list. And before I go to bed, I read the list and look at which things brought me the most happiness and helped me get one step closer to my goals, whatever they are on any given day. I’m all about bringing as much happiness, lightness, and positivity into my life.
I’ve always been a pretty happy person, but I’ve also dealt with some fairly darker stuff at times. (For another day, perhaps.) I’ve let other peoples’ actions and reactions get the best of me. I’ve let negative comments and feedback keep me up at night. I’ve let worrying about what others think of me bring me to tears. I’ve questioned and second-guessed my decisions until I bored myself. I’ve let myself feel left out — even when I isolated myself to begin with.
I’ve trusted people way too easily, and I’ve been way too generous with my time and energy. I’ve learned that I have so many amazing, fun, kickass friends, and that I’d rather give them all of my focus than give an ounce of it to anyone who makes me feel bad, bums me out, or brings me down.
Self-improvement is a never-ending process, I think. Maybe that’s why I like yoga so much — there’s always room to explore, improve, play, fall down, and get back up again. I’m enjoying the getting older process, and I like forcing myself to think about things I never used to think about or care about. I’ve learned to confront and challenge my own beliefs, which is really hard sometimes. (I know, who am I and WTF am I talking about? Blame the birthday and my incessant need to look back and reflect on “where I was a year ago.”)
I’ve learned to go through life more unapologetically, and not to rely on other people when it comes to my happiness. Other people (and puppies!) can definitely add to my happiness, but ultimately the decision to be happy — to take control of my life and not be someone who lets life happen to me — is my own.
A big, wildly freeing takeaway from the past year: The older I get, the less I care. (This, of course, has been in the works for two years now. “I’m 30, I’m too old for this shit,” remember? It’s the greatest life motto I’ve ever embraced.)
I know that sounds terrible. And I’m not saying I just don’t give a crap about anything. I care deeply about the things I choose to care deeply about — and I don’t give a second thought to the rest.
I don’t care what people think of my decisions or choices.
I used to try to be so P.C., especially on my blog, because god forbid I say something that might somehow be misconstrued and offend someone I don’t know. But I know I’m a good person. I’m not a know-it-all. I can admit my mistakes, wrongdoings, and incorrect assumptions. I don’t have an ego, but I also act with integrity and conviction, and I stand firm in my beliefs and opinions. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, or even respect my opinion. But I still have it and stand by it. (I’ve also learned the difference between “conviction” and utter stubbornness.)
I don’t care how much I weigh or what sizes clothes I wear. I don’t care about having a certain number of page views, comments, followers, likes, or downloads. (Though trust me on this one: I am so deeply grateful for all of the support here and on my podcast. I care deeply about that. It means the world to me.)
I don’t need validation from external sources anymore. My happiness used to waver based on how many likes an Instagram post received or how many people commented [positively] on a blog post. Those things simply don’t matter to me anymore. I’ve spent too long with my face buried in apps — I’m at a point now where I crave real human connection (which can totally happen digitally!). Whether that means hanging out IRL and creating lasting relationships or being email pen-pals, there’s so much more to life than “likes.”
I don’t care that I’m missing a few toenails, that I wear a messy topknot at least six days per week, or that I work from home wearing the same off-the-shoulder sweatshirt and short-shorts every single day.
I don’t care how many miles I run each day, week, or month, and I don’t care about my pace on most of those miles.
I don’t care about or give a second thought to people who are rude, unkind, unsupportive, or uninvested. I don’t care about people who choose to make excuses and create stories instead of taking chances. That’s their choice, so that’s fine — but I want to be around people who lift me up, make me better, push me to be more educated, and get me out of my comfort zone.
I don’t care about being uncomfortable. Bring it on. I’m down to face my fears. I’m OK with the prospect of failing — at least it means I tried.
Do I sound like a crotchety “get off my lawn” lady yet?
I don’t care.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!
So here’s something I want you to really hear: I am fifteen years older than you and still working hard to embrace all that you’ve written here. So please revel in the wisdom you’ve gained in your relatively short life, and know that your many remaining years will be so, so much happier for it. Good for you! Well earned and well deserved. Thank you for sharing your awesome thoughts. Rock on, and happy birthday!
happy, happy birthday, Ali!
Happy Birthday Ali!!! I’ve loved following along on your journey and each year that passes I find myself coming to a lot of the same realizations (external factors should not impact by ability to choose happiness, i’m too old for this BS, etc). Wishing you a great year ahead!!
Amen, sista! I’m so impressed that you’re at this point at only 32. I turn 48 next week and have only gotten there in the last year or so. You’re an inspiration! Happy birthday!
Happy Birthday! Love your attitude and encouragement.
I LOVE YOU AND LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Birthday twins always. BE YOU! P.S. you still have to be friends with me 😉
Happy birthday! I’m a long time blog reader and have always loved your “voice”. I read a shit ton (actual true amount) of blogs and can honestly say your blog is the only one that makes me laugh out loud (and cry occasionally) on a regular basis. Thanks for sharing pieces of your life with us and thanks for the kick ass podcast! You help make my morning commute a little more bearable. Wishing you a day filled with all of your favorite things!
Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great year!
Happy Birthday! Also, personally I love that when I hit 30 i finally felt justified in openly being a crotchety “Get off my lawn” lady. Enjoy!
This is an amazing post! Keep rocking it girl and have an amazing bday!
HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY ALI!!!!!! I am a lonnngggg time reader and I just wanted to let you know I am really inspired by your blog and omg I can’t get over your podcasts! Like in the most amazing way! It’s like you’re speaking right to me girl and somehow I end up doing some deep reflection every time I hear one! I hope you have the perfect birthday and get the MOST ELLIE KISSES!!!! Keep rockin’ on!!!!
Happy happy birthday!!!
Y’all are so cute and sweet I just got diabetes and my diabetes just got a cavity. 🙂
I’m so glad you figured all this stuff out – I wish I had figured it out earlier (I’m 50 and just now getting to where you are, but it’s the journey, not the time schedule, I know). I hope your birthday is full of brilliant, wonderful, exciting things, and that this next year is full of healthy, happy, running miles with 2 legged friends, 4 legged friends, alone, or in any grouping thereof.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY (almost) to my incredible, smart, funny (way funnier than me), beautiful, powerful and all around awesome wife. I love you.
NEW BLOG, WHO DIS?