I turned 35 on Thursday, 7th Feb 2008.
I was suppose to write this up earlier but got side tracked by new home improvement projects at home. Instead of the usual gifts that my family would give me on my birthday, I asked them to come to my apartment and help me clean the place up. I am a horrible housekeeper and there are even corners in my apartment that I have not even seen once in the 12 years I have been living in the place! I would need the help of a small army to get my apartment anywhere near presentable of people to drop in. But in the end it was a great birthday gift as most of them came and over the next 2 days helped me rearrange 2 rooms, the living room and the kitchen not to mention help to clean up the product of years of neglect. I still have a few things that I still need to do and to get but I’m pretty happy now to have a place that I don’t feel so embarrassed to have company over.
Part of the condition of my family’s birthday gift for me is that I let them decide what to throw and what to keep. I am by nature a pack rat. I never throw out anything for fear that I would need to use them in the future. I have paper bags that were older than my Primary Year 1 going nephew that I kept since I thought that they might come useful later! As I watched them sort out what I could keep and what I had to let go, it struck me how appropriate it was given the changes that I have been going through this past year. Part of my problem all these years was that I have been accumulating items in my life that is not only weighing me down in one place but also cocooning me in a safety zone that I felt settled in. Reaching this milestone age for me this year meant that I now had a chance to trim down things in and around my life in order for me to move forward.
Turning 35 was something that I both looked forward and dreaded in equal measure. There was a time that I saw myself as being married with children by the time I reach this age. For obvious reasons that vision never came through and I’ve decided to stop emotionally investing on the possibility of having children of my own. I may think about adopting when the time is right but for now I have given up the thought of having my own bloodline continue down the ages. It’s a sad thought for me especially when I have been planning for them for the longest time. I even have a small notebooks of names that I have been revising all these years which I can’t even bear to look at now. Thinking about it even now feels like I am saying good bye to a dear loved one that I know that I will never see again.
In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I have been on a pruning spree on things around me that I felt was providing me with the comfort zone that I felt so settled and sedated in. In the process, I have broken my share of hearts and dashed many expectations by acting selfish and thinking of myself first for a change. In my defense, I can only say that I’m facing my midlife crisis about 5 years ahead of schedule. I was not feeling happy settling for the next best thing when I never given myself a chance to find out what was best for me. I was too wrecked with the what ifs that I wondered more than a few times if I have made a mistake all this time. I did not want to end up being bitter at other people for the missed opportunities in my life just because I was afraid to try. The only way that I could see to avoid that was to remove my comfort zone which will force me to move on to my next phase of development.
Moving ahead in my 35th year of living, life seems to be exciting again with so many uncertainties ahead of me. Other than my continued work/financial stability, something that I choose to leave as is, everything else is a journey I have yet to undertake. In a way, turning 35 felt like I now had a "do-over" for my life but this time I would not be as afraid as I was before when making my choices. It’s not very often that a person gets a second chance to radically rebuild themselves from the ground up but I’m starting on that journey this year. If last year my motivation to change were of thoughts of revenge on the person who broke my heart with callous comments, this year my motivation will be for self improvement and taking calculated risks that I hope will bring me happiness.
I would be lying if I don’t admit that future prospects scares me now more than ever since I don’t having anything other than myself to fall back to. Being a risk adverse individual, I’m basically operating on a measure of faith from this point onwards. The rewards at the end of this journey may not commensurate the effort I would put in to get there but I would never know unless I give it a try. The old me may never even dream to doing that being content to stay in his protective cocoon shielded from the need to take risks.
This is a new me now. At 35, I’m now taking the road not taken to see where it will lead me.
The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I turned 35 on Thursday, 7th Feb 2008.