Some thoughts on turning 31
In five days I will be 31. I had a lot of self-inflicted anxiety around turning 30. So naturally, I dealt with it the only way that makes sense: by throwing a magnificent “Flappers and Philosophers”-themed birthday party (#bmosthirtylicious). While the party was a great reminder of all I had to be thankful for, it wasn’t the easiest time in my life. I was unemployed (again), struggling with my career choices (again) and avoiding some long-simmering mental health issues (again).
I promised myself and my mom that when I had a new job and health insurance, I would look for a therapist. I also promised Frank Turner, although he doesn’t know that. During an interview I did with Frank last summer, he mentioned cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, and how much it had helped him. I kept it in the back of my mind. “If Frank did it, so can I,” I told myself. (I had to tell myself that a lot.)
Almost one year later, my life looks very different. A nice college professor and his wife are renting my ninth-floor lake-view condo in Cleveland while I’m living in a one-bedroom first-floor apartment in Columbus’ Discovery District. I miss my walk-in closet and my barely-five-year-old oven, but I love that I can look out my window and see the park. I love that I can walk to work. I love the way my floors creak as I move through my apartment.
I have a job. Not only that, a job I love. One that lets me geek out over CMS quirks and write about music. I work with some amazing people who blow me away with the incredible work they do every day.
I started therapy. Yes, Ms. Therapy Isn’t For Me is now a convert. (Thanks Frank.) I joked with a friend recently that I’ve become the annoying person who starts sentences with “My therapist says...” I’ve gone from passively managing my OCD to actively dealing with it and addressing things in my life that have been affected by it. My therapist has taught me a lot, but my favorite piece of wisdom from her is this: “It’s OK to say, ‘This feeling sucks, and I hate it.’ It’s OK to sit with that a bit and accept it.”
I’ve gone on dates. And even though they stress me out, and I kind of hate the very act of dating (see above bit about lingering unresolved OCD issues) it’s getting less anxiety-inducing. (Just like my therapist said it would.) When I want to give up, I’m reminded of my therapist’s elevator analogy. She makes fun of herself for constantly using it, but it’s true. If you’re afraid of riding on an elevator, CBT is about getting on the elevator as many times as it takes for it to no longer be scary.
I finally learned how to make an Old Fashioned. I bought the fancy cocktail cherries and everything. (Also, can we talk about the racket that is the fancy cocktail cherry industry? I think I cried a little when I saw the price.)
I joined a writing group full of badass writers who make me feel like I could (and should) write the damn book.
I told a friend recently, “Things are good. I feel very content with my life. It’s weird. But it’s nice.”