Last week, I went to my beautiful friend Lorna’s 25th birthday.
Next week, I turn 30.
And I can’t help reflecting on everything that has changed for me in the 5 years since my own 25th.
Back then I was only 6 months into a new relationship, unsure of myself, working in a call centre (with some awesome people), and I was happily coasting along without any real vision of what my future would be. I couldn’t ever see myself being able to afford to buy a house, and couldn’t really picture where my career would take me. I had a list of places I wanted to visit, but no idea how I would get there. I defined myself as creative but wasn’t actually doing anything artistic with my time, and wanted to build more for myself but didn’t know how.
Now, with a little over a week until my 30th birthday dawns, I fully expected to be feeling a little desolate. I’m still coming to terms with losing my Dad, and quite frankly who wouldn’t feel fed up with everything when a relationship of 5 1/2 years ends suddenly a couple of weeks before your big birthday?
But actually, when I think about it, I’m ok.
Over the last 5 years, I had an amazing relationship with someone I loved at the time, even if it didn’t last, and it’s left me changed for the better. I know more clearly what I want from life, who I am and what I stand for. I also know now that for my own happiness I need to value and chase my own dreams fully, purely and with abandon, rather than pinning my joy on someone else.
I also had some of my best years with my Dad and our family, making memories with them that I will treasure forever. His loss will forever define my life far more than a milestone birthday ever could. In the end, the number doesn’t matter. Everything is just before and after that day. But I have learned that I am stronger than I thought, and that his ability to love freely and fiercely is at the core of the strength I found. Even in the darkest of times, I can love. And I will continue to love both people and life, freely and fiercely, no matter what.
I embraced my artwork and had a go at setting up a little business from it. For the moment, I have things on hold whilst I sort out my personal life. But now I’ve found my creative fingertips again, I’m not letting anything stop me completely. I am drawing at least once a week still, and have a list of ideas as long as my arm for when I have a little breathing space to make a proper mess with paint and sculpting.
I changed job twice, from the call centre to a lovely HR team and now I work in a creative role at a University doing work that I love with a team who are awesome. I’d love to build on that in the next few years, but for now I’m happy learning.
I’m finally in a position to buy a house and have a mortgage, and have made tentative first steps towards trying to buy one that I like. I never thought this would be a real option for me. And now I just can’t wait to get my home base settled so I can go adventure!
My list of places to visit and what I’d do there has developed exponentially. Some I’ve been to, some I need to go back to, and some are freshly beckoning me. To help me get on the road (literally), I’ve booked in a whole bunch of driving lessons and have a car ready and waiting for me. Wish me luck!
And throughout all of the last 5 years, I have been held together by my amazing family and friends. From people who have known me since I was teeny (I know I know, I’m still teeny), to the people I have met over the last 5 years who have become part of my life… I hate the instagram hashtag but I really do feel #blessed to have such wonderful people around me. My family are incredible, and my friends have become a second family who I love dearly. We have laughed, cried, danced and adventured. We’ve grown and built things and consoled one another when things didn’t work out.
But most of all we’ve had fun.
And if I can wish for anything for my 30th birthday and beyond, with all the uncertainty that holds for me in this current moment, it’s to spend another five years having a damn good time.
Love, Stephanie x