Birthday Anxiety

My birthday is a time that I’m always excited about. I count down the days and look forward to celebrating with the people I love most and going on great adventures. But coming up on my 29th birthday this year, I don’t feel the same excitement that I usually do. Last week I was anxious thinking about this being the last year in my 20s.

I would never have considered myself an anxious person, but since I got pregnant with my last daughter over 2 years ago, anxiety seems like a normal (and horrible) part of my daily routine. But despite countless anxiety attacks, I was happy about my birthday last year.

Why is this birthday different?

Turning 29 was a happy thought at first, but then I realized that this is the last year in my 20s, and I only have a year left to accomplish certain goals in my life. And that was frightening. I started to think about my best friends, who are earning their masters degrees, one of whom has 2 kids. I started to compare what I have accomplished in my life, and I couldn’t think of anything.

What have I truly accomplished in this decade, besides raising two wonderful daughters?

And panic set in at this thought. So I began to dread turning 29, my last chance at doing something meaningful with my life. To create lasting friendships in my new home state, to get my career and education back on track, and work on becoming a better version of myself. Its overwhelming to think about all I have to work on.

I spoke to my sister-in-law about this. I told her all my worries and how I’m feeling lost. And that I’m scared to pursue my own goals, because my anxiety has convinced me that taking care of myself meant that my relationship with my husband and children will suffer. But I owe it to myself, and my family to work on myself and my goals. She reminded me of all that I have accomplished in my life already. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

In this past decade of my life, I’ve lived in 4 states: New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and now Arizona. It’s such a big achievement in my book that I’ve moved out of my hometown, something that many people will never do in their lives. I’ve met some amazing, and not-so-amazing people, and they’ve all taught me something. I’ve realized my passion for fitness and while I have neglected that passion these past few years, it’s a goal of mine to become a personal trainer again. I’ve become vegan, something I never thought would happen, ever. I married the most amazing man in the world and we’re coming up on our tenth anniversary. I’m proud of the work we’ve put into our relationship and we’ve become better people since we first got together. I’m raising two children, a job that is so important, and I’m doing a kickass job (even though I feel like I’m not most of the time).

And most important of all, I’m learning more about myself. I’m learning the kind of person I want to be, and I’m taking steps everyday to become that person. I’ve realized what kind of relationships I want in my life. And because of that I’ve let go of relationships and set boundaries with people. I know that I alone am in charge of my happiness. I’ve realized how strong of a person I am. The most difficult thing I’ve gone through was losing my father. I deal with the grief of that loss everyday. And all the struggles I’ve faced have made me a stronger person.

So I write this blog post to remind myself, and anyone else reading, not to compare your timeline to someone else’s. We’re all on different paths, dealing with our own struggles. It’s only natural to compare ourselves to others, but it’s unfair to do so. I’m trying to focus on my own journey, to count my blessings and to be okay with imperfection. I hope the same for you.

Alright 29, I’m ready for you.

-Toniann

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