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Me at 32

Today’s my birthday, and I decided to write something for it.

I’ve been purposefully avoiding writing for the last six months, mostly because I wanted to take that expectation of production off my plate. That nagging spirit of “I haven’t written anything for a while” is silly, and something I’ve been looking to exorcise for a bit.

So here I am: 32, unemployed, and probably a bit worse for wear than I should be. But I’m still here, and that’s all that really matters. I’m still making efforts to change myself for the better, be a kinder person, and generally be compassionate to the difficulties I’m still running into.

Despite that last bit, I’m still having trouble with the pandemic, mostly because my life hasn’t drastically changed beyond the removal of some options for things, like moving therapy from in-person to remote, and the loss of volleyball as a thing I could do. I still work from home, have most of my friendships digitally, cook the same meals, and live in the same place.

However, I can definitely feel that pandemic anxiety grinding at me, and despite resisting giving myself some room to struggle, I’m getting better at it. It feels like we can collectively see the light at the end of the tunnel (maybe?) and booking my next vaccine appointment for tomorrow has given me some optimism that progress is happening, somehow.

I guess that’s what I ultimately want most as a birthday present: the signifiers of progress, and actually feeling like the effort I’m putting into myself is paying off. This is probably what has made birthdays and New Year’s a bit anxiety-inducing; it’s an occasion to ask the question “what have I really done for myself?” In most cases, I’m not sure I like the answer, but again, I’m working on it.

There’s that meme of someone basically saying “this is the year I’ll get my shit together” that ends with them dying with an unfufilled life, and I think that has always terrified me. It’s also a very binary story, since life has different degress of success and failure that have different degrees of celebration attached to it.

I’m learning that I need to learn to love myself for things that I don’t feel are important, but really are. And it’s okay that I’m not too good at it yet.

Today’s plans are pretty simple: I’m going to lay in a hammock until it rains (fingers crossed) with a book, my 3DS, and some headphones. I’m going to enjoy homemade pizza, key lime pie, and ice cream with my family, because going over to their place has been a nice thing to look forward to every week to keep my sanity.

I’m going to talk to a lot of people who care about me, and who want me to be happy. I’m going to cherish those people, because they’ve meant the world to me in a really difficult time.

I’m going to try to be kinder to myself, because that’s what probably really matters.

That series of thoughts — where I’m recognizing my feelings and needs, not immediately invalidating them with shame or embarrassment — feels like progress. And progress is probably the best gift this year.


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By Matt Demers

Matt Demers writes about media, esports, life, and mental health. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram. You can watch him stream on Twitch. You can listen to his podcast at Good Morning, Good Night.