Today Is My Birthday, and I’ll Write If I Want To
Days like this make excellent excuses for reflection. Birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, and similar holidays always come with the theme of looking back. Why is that? I think, first, because it’s so easy. The content, the toasts, the sentiments all practically write themselves! It’s so easy because we know the drill. We understand the expectations. But I think there’s another reason, too, why we always do this. Why we bring up the highlights and dramatic portions of the last 12 months. It’s the first time we’ve thought about them.
Any person with a reasonable amount of obligations and responsibilities (i.e. any adult) is busy. We’re busy all the time! These events are how we keep track of time. Sure, we look up every four weeks and go, “Is it July already? Man!” Then we just keep on doing what we’ve been doing. Birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays like New Year’s are functionally our annual renewals. That’s the time when we finally stop and reevaluate.
Do you really want to stay at that job? Do you really want to stay with that significant other? Do you want to keep renting that apartment? Has that subscription service been worth it? Should you change one of your lifestyle choices? These are the kinds of questions we ask ourselves each year when their respective events roll around. How else do you answer a question like these without looking back on what you’ve done and what’s happened to you? We don’t reflect because of a lazy cliché. We look back on the past year to help us figure out what in the world we’re doing.
My birthday — today — marks 18 months that I’ve been with Text Request. It also marks 18 months since I quit my “dream job,” and we moved back to Chattanooga. Within the last year, I’ve completed a project to read 52 books in 52 weeks, and started another project to publish 100,000 words (which I’ve also completed early — woo! — updates to follow). I also recently started freelancing. And then so much has happened to The Wife and me in the last year. It’s been crazy. But I haven’t really stopped to think about it all together in one big picture until now.
I had actually forgotten my birthday was coming up today, until The Wife asked me about it last Sunday. I’d be surprised if something like that hasn’t happened to you a few times. Why? Because we’re always busy! These events are what momentarily take us off the treadmill of life to reevaluate if we’re going in the right direction at the right speed with the right people. I’m now taking a more serious look at the whole writing thing. How am I doing on my goal to have the option of self-employment by 2017? How am I treating my wife or our finances? What does shereally want to do moving forward? Am I doing my job well for Text Request? What could I do better, or what books could help me learn?
When people like myself talk about our “year in review” or goals moving forward, I believe, it’s not because we’re too lazy or lack the creativity to come up with something original. It’s because for one week out of the year, all of this is what we care about. It’s what we focus on, put our emotions into, and get excited about! Why do creatives and freelancers and entrepreneurs always seem to drag on and on about themselves on these days? We know we’re likely not providing much value by talking about ourselves. For a moment, though, that’s what we care about. Of course we’re going to share that with people!