My birthday is at the end of the week and I’m turning a quarter of a century old. What.
I’m in the midst of many transitions, some beautiful and some painful. I’m wondering what my future looks like, both short-term and long-term, while I also try to figure out where I’ve come from. It’s a season of reflection and attempts to learn how to cultivate inexhaustible joy.
Inexhaustible joy is a phrase and intention from a monastic community, Taizé, that I went to recently with a group of beloved friends from seminary, a place where I found another beloved community in addition to the people that I came with. (Once I’ve processed my experiences more, I’ll write a post about some of the experiences I had there and some of the messages I walked away with!).
When my group left Taizé, we each shared one word that we believed encapsulated our week at the unique and beautiful pilgrimage site. I shared the word surprise and one of my peers shared the word permission. I’ve been challenged and inspired by them, so the words that are on my mind right now as I enter my quarter-of-a-century year are permission, surprise, and inexhaustible joy.
Last year, for my 24th birthday, I decided to try something new, and I’m doing it again now: Writing my hopes and sharing them so others can know them, and know me, better. Sharing them is a way of not only opening up, but also allowing there to be accountability as I press on in these hopes.
My birthday gifts of 25 intangible hopes to myself (that I hope become tangible!) are mostly things that have been on my mind for a long time and things that I’ve been taking steps toward, but it’s never a bad thing to take the time to pause, listen, and reevaluate. Now, with the words permission, surprise, and inexhaustible joy in mind, I have some words for things I’ve hoped for, didn’t even dare to hope for, and didn’t have words for.
For my 25th birthday, I give myself permission to…
- Be loved and known, and also know that others’ love for me doesn’t determine the fact that I am worth loving.
- Love in quantities that are absurd, and also guard my heart when necessary.
- Make time for what makes me feel well emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally, and also not to shame myself if I miss a day or two of here or there.
- Live by my own values rather than those that others or I think that I should.
- Dream big, and also know that I don’t need to achieve every dream I have in the exact form I’ve imagined it in order to be worthy and live a beautiful life.
- Celebrate victories.
- Learn from my regrets rather than pretending that I have none.
- Grieve when necessary.
- Forgive others as I forgive myself.
- Move forward and move through when I can and be courageous enough to try again.
- Let go of expectations so that I can be curious, experience my life as it is, and be surprised by it.
- Know that I have gifts and can make a difference in people’s lives.
- Talk less and listen more.
- Ask more questions and be open to all answers (or no answers).
- Be flexible, and also be clear, with my boundaries.
- Know that I don’t have to do everything and be everything to everyone in order to matter.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck
- Keep a secret or two, and also share when I want to and ask for help when I need to.
- Learn how to feel like an integral part of a group and to trust its bonds.
- Admit when I need to call it a day, and also to refuse not to try with whatever my best is that day.
- Write more poems and journal entries.
- Seek adventure in the everyday and unusual alike and to cherish the moment.
- Be patient, trusting, discerning, and open with God, others, and myself.
- Risk failure and not let the fear of it stop me.
- Be different from the person I was before – even yesterday.
- Trust that I have time and that somehow, there will be enough, and that I am enough.
I believe that buds can flower and I believe that I am doing just that. Happy quarter of a century of life to me. May it continue to surprise me with inexhaustible joy, and may I continue to give myself the permission to experience and live it to the fullest.