I’ve always struggled with my birthday. Not for the usual reason (because my brain doesn’t do anything resembling typical) but because I have issues with permanent goodbyes.
I panic when I turn a year older in the same way I freeze internally on New Year’s Eve. There’s something about the realization that I will never live in that slice of time ever again that sends me into an emotional tailspin that’s hard to explain.
Sometimes time feels surreal — so much so that it’s not a hard leap for me to believe we’re living in a Matrix-style simulation and we’re all just floating around in amniotic goo to provide energy for an alien entity.
Not a total stretch for my imagination.
I have to snap myself out of that particular stream of thought before my existential crisis turns into a full-blown mental event requiring medication and a quiet room.
Being overwhelmed on my birthday is something I’ve become accustomed to but I’m working hard to overcome this mental glitch because now, more than ever, it’s so important to celebrate the time we have instead of mourning the time we’ve lost.
I am determined to live in the moment, to seek joy in the now.
I’ve made significant changes in my life to support my new personal change in perspective and I’m proud of the changes I’ve made but the work is ongoing.
With any big change of habit, whether physical or mental, backsliding happens. Two steps forward, one step back, until the slips become less frequent and your new behavior becomes the norm.
We all need accountability, whether we find that within ourselves or with the help of our support circle. Change is hard and scary. The comfort of something familiar can be the trap that keeps us circling self-defeating behaviors, limiting beliefs, and toxic situations.
It is never too late to commit to becoming the best versions of ourselves.
More so than ever before, we have at our fingertips so many tools available to help us achieve our goals. Sometimes the idea of change is overwhelming but small steps lead to beautiful destinations, too.
Here are some things I’ve added to my emotional support arsenal that help support my “better me” goal. Feel free to include these tools in your arsenal, too.
· No negative self-talk allowed. Our subconscious listens to everything, including the things we say to ourselves. Make the message, kind, supportive, and loving.
· Self-hypnosis or meditation. There are tons of free resources available on YouTube that are easy and effective.
· Before you go to sleep, finish your day with gratitude. List three things for which you are grateful. It is the act of searching that changes your perspective, not the perceived importance of what you’re using (i.e. you can be grateful for small things, too).
· See it, believe it. Envision the life you want. Pour your energy into the image you desire. Let the energy flow in that direction.
· Spend less time focusing on your challenges. We tend to talk a lot about our misfortunes but minimize our blessings. Flip that script.
· Seek to help others but not to the point of self-harm. Enforcing boundaries is another way to love yourself.
If you looked at that list and felt overwhelmed, try tackling one concept first. Change requires consistency, discipline, and desire but trying to do everything at once is a one-way trip to self-sabotage.
As I stare down the barrel of 49 (egad, that number feels strange) I realize the number doesn’t define me. The best years of my life are not behind me but ahead. With that outlook, how can I not look to the future with hope, anticipation, and love?
Let’s do this together — a grand adventure amongst friends holding each other accountable.
I say, carpe diem, my friends.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.