Ah, yes. Birthdays. Your DOB if you will. We all have ‘em. Some of us even take it the next level and declare an entire month to celebrate our arrival into the world. You know who you are.

I have a birthday coming up. This isn’t an announcement so you can queue up your Facebook HBD posts or sift through the knick-knack section at Urban to buy something “that’s so Samples.” I already have enough pre-made kitschy check lists and adult coloring books (but can you ever have too many?). 

This birthday declaration is more of an aside, a casual check-in. I feel that too often people are caught up in the number of birthdays they have and the correlating number of life-wins.

Life-wins.

You know, those milestones that you see in TV and movies; the ones that are laid out for you before you even have your first birthday. If you’re 24 and live in a rural town that is only 90 minutes from a medium-sized metropolitan city, then you’ve probably gotten through a lot of these life-wins already. 

LIFE-WIN EXAMPLES: 

1) Having a significant other because you can’t live with them – oh wait, you can and you will – and you can’t live without them – no really, you can’t. 

2) Having a good job with a good title. Stability. Comfort. Routine. And repeat. 

3) Great 2+ bedroom space where you and your significant other (see #1) live together and regularly make HelloFresh dinners. 

4) Wearing a big piece of ice on that fourth finger. 

5) Childr– I can’t even type it. But yes, from what I’ve read in scientific journals, that seems to be the biggest win of all for some people. 

Why do we make these milestones? Or better yet, why do we hold ourselves accountable to these milestones that are so clearly made by other people? Sure, biology (shout out to mitochondria) dictates some of these timelines, but for the most part, we just nod and listen to the world that creates them for us. 

I imagine this huge rolling hill. At the peak sits a giant dry-erase board with these pre-diagnosed life-wins, listed out with perfectly executed checkboxes at the end of each line. On your birthday, you have to carry your massive Sharpie marker up the hill, as if you’re bearing a birthday cross, to check-off one of these life wins – if you’ve got any. Yeah, I did say sharpie marker on a dry-erase board, so you know things are very serious. 

large-sharpie-chisel-tip-green

So I’m at the mountain top with this birthday right around the corner, kelly green Sharpie at the ready because that’s how I do. But I’m not going to look at the board. I’m not going to check anything off. I don’t need to. I don’t want to. Hitting these milestones will never give me the same irrepressible feeling that “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out” does.  

Yes, I’m turning another year older, but this is a year that feels… something. This is the year I refuse to hold myself to any of these ageist checklists – even if they’re sharply designed kitschy checklists from Urban.