On Tuesday I turned 28 years old.
I'll take a moment to be honest here and say that I haven't had the easiest time in the past couple of weeks. Living with depression is like keeping a bear in the closet. Most days, he's contained and quiet, if you keep him well fed, but sometimes he gets anxious and ornery, and it's all you can do to keep him from getting out and smashing everything to bits.
You'd think it'd take a bold resolution to slay the dragon, but no, during these phases, it's the little things that help reclaim yourself again. It may seem silly, but when you're trapped in the circular cage of negative thinking, a little positive words of kindness or communication can loosen the chains: affirmative words about a poem (I've felt impotent in my writing lately), an invitation to be a part of someone's photo project (I'm frustrated my pictures aren't good enough . . . according to who?), or the affirmation that you don't have to apologize for your happiness.
People are doing this "30 things to do before turning 30" thing, but I don't want to. I've done plenty already that I've wanted to do, including live abroad, get a Master's degree, publish in a book, learn how to spin, climb a mountain. Why do I need to focus on the things I haven't done yet? I mean, I could make a list, yeah. It'd look something like this:
- lose 80 pounds
- make regular and healthful meals
- get and stay organized (wouldn't even know where to begin!)
- finish the baby blanket I've been crocheting since pregnancy
- finish the First Story
- get a full-time job with benefits that I enjoy and makes use of my special skills and talents
- improve my poetry
- develop a tasteful, unique, and fashionable wardrobe and wear it well
- be a crafty, hipster mom to my son
- pursue a doctorate, or other degree in Creative Writing
- take a digital photography class
- attend daily Mass
- get a teaching certificate
- read more classics
- play more with my son and take him on outings
- be an active (and popular) blogger
- develop a personal Catholic superstition
But then, when I don't do those things, or don't do them to my satisfaction, I'll be disappointed in myself and unhappy. There's always the risk on birthdays that the "I thought by now I'd be. . ." threat will creep up and climb on. The truth is, I'm my harshest critic, and I'll probably never live up to my own superhuman expectations.
Two scraps of wisdom seem most important right now, offered by two geniuses:
"There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less."--G.K. Chesterton
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle."--Albert Einstein
I know life is a miracle. Maybe if I try to dull the instinct for more-more-more, I'll really start to feel it again.
So my resolution for this next year is to remember and apply those two pieces of advice. It won't be easy. It'll come and go; some days I'll want to make concrete goals and feel good about them, then fall into depression again because I haven't achieved them. On those days it's good to remember that my worth doesn't rest on my virtues or how I perceive myself. That Someone regards me as priceless and wants me enormously, and that there's nothing I can do or not do that will change that.