Today is my birthday. I’m 34.
Normally, I would be spending time with my parents – my dad’s birthday is on the 17th and we like to celebrate together – but today I’m home, eating cake and being lazy.
When I was 10, 13, 16, 20, etc., 34 seemed very far away, and women in their thirties seemed so wise and sophisticated and put together.
Most days, I can’t remember if I’ve brushed my teeth. I think I may have been wrong about women in their thirties. I think we’re all just trying to figure out how to do this adulting thing.
But I do think I’ve learned a few good lessons, so I’ll share, because why not? And because I have very little else to do, given the pandemic and that it’s a Tuesday. And at the end, I’ll share 34 fun facts about me and a picture that will probably make you laugh, because…I can, I guess.
It doesn’t matter what other people think.
It’s old advice, sure, but it’s true, and I wish I’d understood it years ago. The only person responsible for my happiness is me, and so I’m the only one who gets an opinion.
When I left a full-time, well-paid office job to pursue writing, lots of people had nothing but kind and encouraging words. But lots of people also told me I was crazy and that I was throwing away opportunities I’d never be able to get back. A few people actually suggested I was lying, and that I just didn’t want to say what I’d actually be doing.
When I was younger and I wanted to be an opera singer, people made fun of me. I guess no one’s allowed to like opera before the age of 50.
When my husband and I bought a 200-year-old house, several people wondered, out loud, why we would take on that kind of burden, and if we would regret it, because old houses have old house problems and old house problems take time and money. And wouldn’t it be more convenient to just buy a new house in the suburbs and decorate it like an old farmhouse?
So. Much. Whatever.
I get to decide what makes me happy. No one else gets to do that. It’s like my own personal superpower.
And I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
No one is as hard on me as…me.
I used to spend a lot of time trying to live up to expectations. I was always so worried about how other people thought of me, and what they saw in me, and if I was making a good impression.
I realize now that other people don’t think much about me at all. They’ve got their own stuff going on.
Now, when I do something stupid or say the wrong thing or trip and fall in public (which happens a lot), I remember that no one judges me as harshly as I judge myself. And I remind myself to be kind to me, because…
“Perfection doesn’t exist in this universe.”
Neil Gaiman said that once, in a MasterClass I took. I like it.
It doesn’t do any good to hold yourself to perfection, because it just doesn’t exist. Mistakes are part of living. We can contextualize them, learn from them, and put them where they belong – in the past, behind us – or we can dwell on them, and let them rule what we do in the future.
Don’t do that. Perfect isn’t real. Everyone screws up. Be kind, to yourself and to others.
I know nothing.
Yep, John Snow and me.
The older I get, the less I know. I keep learning, every single day. I read, I write, I try to pick up new skills, I take a voice lesson every week, and I talk to people, because there is always more to learn. But every time I learn something new, I feel like it opens the door to 1,000 other new things I should also learn. I like this, because I get bored easily and I was always good at studying anyway.
Learning is beautiful, and it’s fun, and it’s valuable.
I am enough.
Just as I am.
And you are, too.
And because I said I would:
34 Fun Facts About Me
- I drink too much Diet Coke.
- I read at least one book per week. Usually more. Any genre.
- My favorite cake is Red Velvet.
- I forgot the words to the National Anthem while I was performing it once. It was embarrassing.
- I like winter better than summer.
- My favorite place I’ve ever traveled to is Wales (specifically, North Wales).
- Iceland is a pretty close second.
- I hate flying.
- But I love airports. The best people watching ever. And usually there’s wine.
- I am listed as “Katie Wineries” in the contacts list of one of my best friends.
- I have always wanted to learn to paint.
- I think ketchup is trash.
- I love mayonnaise, though. (Everyone tells me this is gross.)
- I am afraid of snakes, ticks, and ladybugs. (Don’t look at me like that. I don’t know, either.)
- My favorite gemstone is a ruby.
- I am a cat person.
- I don’t hold my pencil correctly, and I never have.
- I used to get pulled out of class in elementary school so they could teach me how to hold a pencil. Priorities, I guess.
- I will not wear shorts.
- I read palms for fun.
- I majored in English.
- I am a coloratura. Or, I was, when I was training to sing opera a lifetime ago.
- My favorite opera is Don Giovanni.
- My favorite composer changes every day. So does my favorite writer. (That’s two things, I know.)
- I played Shelby in a production of Steel Magnolias once. It’s been my favorite role to date.
- I love Mitch Hedberg.
- My go-to karaoke song is Gives You Hell by The All-American Rejects. It has been for years.
- Sometimes I’ll sing Desperado instead.
- I cannot play an instrument. (It makes me sad. I should learn.)
- I like pie.
- I prefer the mountains to the beach, but both are lovely.
- I bought tap shoes on Amazon once when I was drunk.
- I have OCD and anxiety.
- I love trivia, and I’m super competitive about it.
And the picture. I don’t know what possessed my mom to place that little bow where she did, but it was genius.