A year ago I turned 26 and was working two jobs, writing my MA dissertation and living with my girlfriend. I had plans to fulfill before turning 27, many of which involved me being switched on constantly, treating every moment in life like a role or task to fulfill and once completed, it was time to move on to the next thing. Not monotonous, but continuous is best to describe it.
They say when man plans, God laughs and the bulk of us can relate considering the pandemic we are still in, however, the sheer magnitude of how my life has changed in 12 months since I changed age shocks me when I think about it. I wouldn’t predict I would be living alone and have a new job which requires me to stay at home. We count the blessings where they come. I wouldn’t have predicted this however.
‘A lot can change in a year’ is a phrase thrown around a lot; mainly to be a means to self-motivate to make dreams come true. But what about when it’s simply a drastic life change? I see older people and wonder how many dramatic 12 months they’ve experienced and how they navigated it, because as many millenials and younger are feeling, 30 seems like burnout, not a second wind.
Usually on my birthdays I plan out how I would like the next 12 months to go, but this year, I think I may skip it entirely and keep to a vague idea that I’ll keep mentally. There has been a lot of turmoil, mental and emotional, a lot of decisions and missed opportunities as well as targets achieved to balance it out.
One thing I resolved to do however was face potential insecurities/comforts near my birthday. Last year I shaved off my beard and was completely clean shaven for the first time since I was a teenager first approaching puberty; I rediscovered my chin and the crutch which was my facial hair was confronted and thankfully, I discovered, even clean-shaven, I’m still handsome. A different type of handsome, sure, but still handsome.
This year, I decided to cut my hair off. I had a healthy amount of hair you can put your hand through for 8 years, since growing it in university and I had forgotten what my headshape was and what my face looked like without it. Learning to cut my hair in lockdown has been a blessing and after a few fades, I finally put the clipper through the top of my hair and was reintroduced to my head. Same result as my beard last year, I’m still handsome thankfully. Rebirthing myself and resurrecting old looks still leads to same results.
I noticed how even now, approaching 27, I remembered seeing my face like this when I first started getting skin fades when I was around 14. The short hair reminds me of secondary school, where you have that teenage relaisation that people are fickle and selfish, and going through some life-altering experiences which you have to go through to survive the harsh realities of the wider world.
Seeing my hair this short again has not only made me realise I’m a very handsome man but also reminded me what would 14 year John think of him now. Would life how it has panned out so far be what he dreamed when all he cared about was selling food in the playground, playing basketball and eating chicken and chips? And thinking that, I smile. Because in truth, I never thought I’d live this long when I was a teenager. And with that thinking, comes the realisation that we are all essentially winging it. The situation the world finds itself in is testament to that we cannot predict tomorrow.
So as I am now officially even closer to 30 than I was yesterday, there will of course be growth. As I’m discovering daily, there really is no time limit on how often we can rebirth, resurrect and grow in each season that life throws us. We are all the heroes in our own narratives, despite how others may interpret our stories, and for me, I suppose a closing note as I approach this new chapter is to truly make peace with my choices. Guilt is an overwhelming emotion that stops us from a full rebirth, it’s an emotion I have felt since as long as I can remember, as if the weight of the world was always on my shoulders, and my aim is to work through this and see what transformation and horizons are ahead for me here.
May we all continue to struggle, strive to create and carve our lives into a masterpiece, even if the only person who gets the final work of art, is the person who made it. Happy birthday to me.