Last week I celebrated my 28th birthday and it was probably my favourite birthday to date. OK, perhaps my 7th birthday actually wins. I remember it so vividly – we celebrated with a bunch of family friends in an park in my hometown in Spain sitting around picnic tables, having a barbecue, climbing trees and playing on the climbing frames. I also had an immense swan cake – I’m not into fancy cakes and never have been but I didn’t know that at the age of 7 and it felt like the ultimate luxury. It’s crazy to think that over 20 years has passed and yet I still feel like that same little girl.
This birthday wasn’t so much about the celebration (although I did have the loveliest dinner with lots of people I love and was spoilt rotten) but I loved this birthday mainly because of where I am in my life and the amazing people around me.
I’m not quite where I thought I’d be at the age of 28 – I remember talking to my best friends in the playground as a young teenager about the future, what we “wanted to be when we were older”, where we would live, who with, if we wanted to have kids, when we’d have kids, and all sorts of things way beyond our years.
My friends had all sorts of crazy cool imaginary life plans but I, on the other hand, had dreamed up a cookie cutter life (perhaps down to my less than cookie-cutter childhood). I had imagined working a 9 to 5 job and being married with kids by the age of 28, living in the countryside and… that would be it.
Life has taken on a totally different path to what I ever could have imagined but 28 certainly feels pretty good. I live in a lovely apartment in wonderful city with breathtaking views from every street corner. I have the most supportive and loving boyfriend. I bump into amazing friends dotted all over the world on my travels. I get to live between Lausanne and London and see both sides of my family who are healthy and well. And, I spend every single day working with people I love on projects I love.
Naturally, there are also things I struggle to come to terms with…
As much as I love bumping into friends all over the world, I so often wish my friends just all lived in the same place. Hell, even my boyfriend Clive lives almost 1000km away. When will Elon Musk actually invent teleportation?
15 years after getting my period, I still struggle to accept that hormones are a thing and they are here to stay for a long while.
I doubt my chosen career path constantly and wake up almost every single night with something to add to one of my many million guilty lists.
I worry that I’m not doing enough “good” in the world.
I worry about preparing for my future and that I still have absolutely no understanding of how to file my taxes or how the système des trois piliers (social security and pension system here in Switzerland) works at all.
I don’t know how people possibly keep up with annual dentist appointments, doctor check-ups, gynaecologist appointments and even bloody hair cuts.
I think you get the point – I’m a worrier and like the rest of us, I’m very much still figuring out this whole adulting thing.
That said, 27 was a big year and I learnt a hell of a lot about myself and what I want my future to look like. I have come to accept that those doubts are what make us human and what make us grow. If I wasn’t constantly questioning myself and what I do, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t know with more confidence than I’ve ever known anything, that I’m moving in the right direction. In fact, I don’t think I’d be moving much at all.
I don’t always remember this but I do try to tell myself that the mistakes, doubts, self-questioning and failures are actually good parts of the journey. For example, last year I wasn’t paid for one of the biggest projects I worked on, despite having a written agreement and a very satisfied client. It was hard, I had to take money out of my “safety account” that I try to never touch to pay the month’s rent, I was disappointed with myself and with the way this world works but I’m stronger, I have refined my work processes and I just have to hope that most people do pay for services provided.
27 was also the year I adopted a bit of a “fuck-it attitude” that I never knew I could have. I work hard, I do what I can with the time I have, try my best to manage people’s expectations and know that that is all I can really do. I don’t work until crazy hours of the morning, I take weekends off with Clive and I don’t let other people’s stress affect me.
Most importantly for my self confidence as an entrepreneur, 27 was the year that I really stood by my worth. I only take on projects I love and I don’t negotiate my rates. Oh, what an incredible learning that was. It’s funny how much more you are worth when you can stand by it confidently.
Lastly, I know my values and I know what I’m good at and above all, I know what I need to work on. 27 was also the year I learnt to seek help and accepted that to move on to bigger and better things, something had to change. On Monday last week, the day of my 28th birthday, I officially hired someone part-time. I’ll be telling you all about her sometime soon but I am so excited for everything to come!
I think I have to accept that I will forever have a mind riddled with worry, but with a little bit of my new-found “fuck-it attitude” and some painstakingly forced positivity through the hard times, things all seem to balance out.
I can tell 28 is going to be pretty incredible.
Photos by Hannah Shan Photography