As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living,” and you better believe I love a good dose of self-reflection. So every year, for every birthday, I ask a crucial set of questions called “The Birthday Questions.” They are designed to spark conversation and encourage reflection, and serve as a fun activity ideally done while eating cake.
I like getting to know friends and family a bit better, and I find it fascinating that regardless of age, income, race, or gender, there are common themes to be had:
- The past is in the past, and you need to learn and move forward.
- Happiness doesn’t come with material possessions, it comes from within.
- Letting go of what other people think.
- Saying goodbye to toxic people.
- Learning to be alone and comfortable in one’s own skin.
- Learning how to open up and trust someone.
I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard those things.
Everyone goes through the same basic struggles and experiences similar revelations. In that comes the comfort of knowing we are not alone as well as the simultaneous disappointment that out brilliant self-discoveries are not unique, and we are all the same.
Well today is my birthday, and I’ve given many different answers to many different people over the course of the day.
After compiling my answers and doing some self-examination, here are my official answer.
So here it goes….
1.What was the best part about this past year of life?
Looking back on a year with shrugged shoulders indicating “same old same old” terrifies me, and let me tell you, 26 was certainly anything but.
I had a wild year that felt like 4, and I’m proud of myself.
It started in North Asia working on the Westerdam, continued with an epic trip to Bangkok and Bali, followed hustling hard in NYC for 6 months where I earned 30+ tax forms for my odd jobs including dressing up like a hotdog for a flash mob and working the Fort Nite World Cup, I went back to Asia to cruise with Jeremy, then hit the road beveling my way across the East Coast on the National Tour of Christmas Wonderland, spent 2 weeks at home with my family, flew to Australia for 10 days, went back to Asia to cruise with Jeremy once more, then moved back to New York (well, New Jersey) once again only to face the coronavirus.
I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
There were some terrible weeks, but those are already a distant memory falling into the shadow of my accomplishments. I traveled back and forth across the world 2 ½ times, checked Australia and Scuba diving off my life bucket list, accomplished a career goal of performing in a National Tour, and overcame emotional barriers to establish an amazing relationship on land with a man I love very much.
I’m quite self-deprecating and usually the last to give myself credit for anything, but I’ll say it again, I’m proud of 26, and that was the best part of this past year of life.
2.What was the biggest thing you learned?
I have made progress towards figuring out what makes me happy.
I love to travel, I love to write, and I have a never-ending desire to achieve and overcome problems and challenges. I love helping friends and being someone’s rock, and I’ve realized they key to brightening my spirits is looking at pictures of cats with bread on their heads on the internet.
With that being said, I’ve become more self-aware and have made progress in recognizing my flaws that impair said happiness.
I’ve noticed a cycle I repeat time and time again. I start something fresh, such as moving back to New York, starting a new contract, or landing a new gig, that makes me unbelievably happy and excited with a zest for life that is overwhelming. I spring out of bed feeling awake, ready, and positive. Slowly, the initial high wears off, the zest starts to fade, and before I know it I’ve reached a depressed state of feeling useless and unaccomplished. I shoot up with another new experience or major change to get that spark back.
Shouldn’t I be able to be my own fire?
I am constantly running after external stimuli, but I want to find that same rush by simply staying still.
The first step is recognizing it, and realizing this about myself is certainly the biggest thing I’ve learned.
3.What are you most looking forward to for this upcoming year?
First and foremost, the coronavirus being over. I’m ready to be on an outdoor patio drinking margaritas with friends in the sunshine, back to dancing, and back to being able to shake hands again (I have a very strong handshake if I do say so myself that is going to waste at the moment.)
Apart from that, this year, 27, is one big question mark. I have no idea where I’ll be living come June 1st, let alone what I’ll be doing. I can’t start painting my blank canvas until life begins again and hands me the paint brush.
To answer the question, I am most looking forward to getting back in the game and back to work.
4.If there wasone thing you could tell your 80 year old self to never forget based on a current mindset, what would it be?
There’s always something new to learn, never stop thinking, it’s not that serious, and you’re probably wrong.
A few final thoughts….
There you have it. 26 year old Katie explained in four simple questions.
Where will I be in and what will I accomplish in the next 365 days? Stay tuned. I’m sure it will be anything but boring.