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It’s My Birthday — on new experiences, nostalgia, growing old

Right now, it’s 10:19pm and I am still 20 something years old.


I am hanging on to these last moments of this age because I still have the opportunity to say I’ll be twenty something some more times. In about three years, well — that is certainly going to change.

I am growing old.

Birthday Image via Pexel

Everybody is, but the reality of this is more succinct to me today — after all, it is my BIRTHDAY. I don’t remember the years before this. That statement needs to be further clarified and well explained — I feel like it is going to be harder than I thought. The words are swirling around in my mind in a foggy mist of unparalleled ideas but that mist is harder to reproduce in words.

But I’ll try.

Some years ago, I turned 20 - in that single day, my teenage years dissipated, and I was forced to start a new chapter. Or so I thought.

It turned out I never had a teenage life; or I never grew out of it. My post-20 years have been an exciting journey of mishaps that reshaped my previous hyper-optimism about life; heartbreaks that redefined the concept of love; successes that seemed too easy to grasp and failures that I could have sworn were “not my portion in life.” And all my adventures of my 20s were backed by a reliance on my ever-supportive Mother, on who I could fall back anytime I overspent my income or got myself into sticky situations — two things I did a lot of.

But this November 10th is different.

Yesterday, a friend asked what I wanted to do on my birthday, the answer was easy: I wanted to have more experiences outside my comfort zone. I wanted to have to the feeling of experiencing new things. But even as I wanted to experience new things I realized that need was grown out of the old things, it was fueled by nostalgia.

Nostalgia is not just a feeling that overcomes us as we look at old pictures or revisit the homes where we grew up. The feeling cannot be watered down to some passing sentiment that can easily be pushed aside. Nostalgia underlies our society at large. Look at popular culture: In 2016 alone, phenomena like “Star Wars: Rogue One” and “YOLO” have both tapped into stories we once loved in the past to draw in audiences. Companies have learnt to market to this part of our minds, selling us things we once loved because we are almost guaranteed to love them — or at least pay for them — again.

Facebook tells us when our friendships with certain people began, and apps like Timehop show us exactly what we were doing on any specific day in years past. Some of my friends have started abseiling, mountaineering, sky-diving, getting tattoos and traveling abroad to re-experience the same senses of adventure and adrenaline that were so abundantly present in their childhood.

You see, nostalgia is a sly lurker, sneaking its way into our life choices as we measure ourselves up against the high points of our pasts.

As I grow older, of course, I do not want to long for previous glories so much that it causes me to turn a blind eye to the present. I want to embrace it in such reasonable doses, that nostalgia would not be a sensation to be ashamed of. In fact, I personally love feeling younger whenever I get the chance to, and if reminiscing on the good old days reminds me of what a fulfilling life I have lived so far, then so be it.

But, because constant bathing in nostalgia leaves no room for taking charge of the present — and take charge of the present, I must — I seek new experiences that will continue the nostalgic circle in the next few years.

My teenage years have dissipated, a lot has happen in 2016 — a whole lot and I’m not just talking about Brexit or Trump’s rise to presidency. I mean a lot of life-shaping things have happened to me on a personal level.

While I’m excited to read what’s coming next in this new age and chapter of life, the pages seem to be turning faster these days. Sometimes the words fly by so quickly that I long to turn back to previous parts and reread the especially amazing parts. I know: textbook nostalgia. In light of some recent reflection surrounding my birthday however, I am realizing just how prevalent this feeling of nostalgia is in my daily life — usually without my even noticing its force.

And it feels me with the dread of the unknown. A terrible dread that seems to choke me in great magnitudes.

There are many times in my life I wish I could go back to certain days. Certain good days that will always be indelibly printed in my mind. 2016 took with it my beloved great grandmother, but the years before it hold even greater and more fulfilling reminders of her life well lived. This year just surges by quicker and quicker and I sometimes want so badly for it to slow down, for it to be still.

I still want to do so much and pray often that I will have the opportunity for more decades to do more.

I appreciate my birthday. I appreciate this life and all it has blessed me with. I appreciate my health. I appreciate my few friends and my family, and the ONE lady that I love but broke my heart. And, if God is on my side, I’d appreciate a few more decades to enjoy all these things.

I’ll end with this:

BONUS — A song from will.i.am, because it is my FUCKING birthday!

PS: Don’t blame me for not having a party, blame this article here How To Celebrate Your Birth day Like An Adult

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