Josh turned 25 yesterday. Birthdays are supposed to be exciting and everything, but it got me thinking about the scary concept of age… All too often I feel as though I haven’t accomplished as much as I should have, I haven’t done enough, and I’m not currently doing anything worth much at all.

I went on a run a couple days ago, because I thought I needed an endorphin boost. There’s something about running that really helps the neurons fire, decisions become clearer, and life just seems to make a whole lot more sense. As I was running, I got to thinking: there are so many stereotypes and certain milestones that we come to believe define our success. These may include:

  • Choosing a relevant degree
  • Graduating College
  • Finding a job
  • Getting married
  • Having a kid

Where is this invisible force that demands us to squeeze into a category and then deem ourselves unsuccessful until we attain the next appropriate milestone? To me, it doesn’t make much sense. Instead, I think we should redirect our focus more introspectively. Perhaps instead of hitting all of the aforementioned “accomplishments” (all of which are visible to outsiders), doesn’t it make more sense to focus internally? Maybe such concepts as:

  • Self-discovery
  • Finding love (see Love)
  • Spiritual nourishment
  • Channeling emotions
  • Continued learning and education

So often, focusing on ourselves is overlooked. It may be seen as selfish, unimportant, and even a waste of time. I’d venture to argue the opposite.

For me, I find that I’m most myself when I am intentional and do the things that make me, me:

  • I like to brew myself a cup of tea every evening
  • I like having alone time
  • I like running on my own
  • I like listening to music, and discovering new music
  • I like reading my Bible in the morning
  • I like looking at art and appreciating the beauty of nature

These solitary activities do not mean that I’m lonely and that I don’t want to be around people. It doesn’t even make me an, “introvert.” I just like to recenter myself and give myself some time to reflect on the events of the day.

Does it make me a bitch when evening rolls around and I excuse myself to withdraw to the comfort of my bedroom? No.

Does it make me antisocial when I pop in my earbuds to listen to my Spotify playlist? No.

Does it make me rude when I tell my friends I’d prefer to run alone? No. (Disclaimer: I usually do like running with people, but sometimes a solitary run in nature does the soul well)

Does it make me a whack-job when I tell my boyfriend I want to stay in for the night? No.

I like how William Shakespeare put it in Henry V:

“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting”

Making time for myself is a great step towards loving myself, and loving me is an intentional decision. It doesn’t just happen by wishing, wanting, or dreaming about it. It’s a conscious choice.

So instead of

  • believing the lies in my head
  • giving in to social norms and sacrificing me-time
  • and berating myself for not accomplishing everything I “should have” done by age 22

I decided to revel in the fact that I was another year older, and make the most out of my next year of life by first loving and celebrating me.