NOTE: My birthday was back on March 10th. I meant to post this by the end of March, maybe April by the latest, but…hah hah hah…it’s now September. Oh well. It’s still relevant. And I know I could’ve posted it on the 10th of September…but naaaaah. ANYWAY…onto the post!
Each year, when my birthday comes around, I feel this tiny spark of joy. I’ve spent years feeling this tiny spark of joy, accompanied by a circle of guilt and bitterness. My relationship with my birthday has been sour for quite a while. Even last year, which was a few weeks before the pandemic, I still felt guilt and bitterness. However, this year, the guilt and bitterness was absent. It was replaced by joy, anticipation, and trying to plan what I was going to do for that day. How did those feelings get replaced though? I came into realization of something important. Something that I’ve never seen anyone talk about before.
But before I tell you, you need to understand my relationship to my birthday and what lead up to all of this.
I Don’t Deserve a Birthday
I don’t remember when I started feeling bitter about my birthday, but it was probably around middle school.
Prior to then, I recall being excited about my birthday…but not in the same way as I was this year. As I kid, I would generally invite my whole elementary school class to my grandparent’s house for my birthday. I loved getting presents and being able to invite everyone, regardless if I was actually friends with them or not. I don’t remember how I actually felt at that time, but I know remembering one of the birthday parties puts a smile on my face: I had a luau-themed birthday party and told people to come dressed in their bathing suits. It happened to snow that day. Pffft.
I also remember too my grandfather had spray painted a backdrop of a tropical island for everyone to take photos in front of. He also ended up doing a Pokémon Gold & Silver one for one year as well, which was super cool.
Despite some good parts of those memories, I don’t really feel like I was happy for the same reason I am today.
I think the bitterness for my birthday probably started with middle school or maybe even early high school. I don’t remember much either, other than just…not enjoying my parties. There was one larger gathering I had during high school with my group of friends that I only remember because we did a Super Smash Brothers Melee tournament and I got SO bored. At my own birthday party!
Most of my bitterness from that time actually had to do with the availability of my best friend at the time. They were involved with sports and lived in a different town, so I couldn’t see them most of the year. I really wanted to see them on my birthday, having a nice time with them, but they couldn’t come due to their obligations to sports.
I remember my dad one year poked fun of me for being grumpy on my birthday, remarking that I “couldn’t have big birthday parties anymore like I did in elementary school”. I promptly replied back to him that I don’t care about big birthdays – I just wanted to spend time with my best friend. He went quiet and looked sad.
This bitterness grew more as I left high school and entered into the workforce – I still wanted my birthday off from work (which most years, I just happened to get scheduled off). My depression got increasingly intense and even when I started working through my issues, I couldn’t but feel bitter and guilty about my birthday.
Why though? The bitterness makes sense – a lingering feeling from not being able to spend time with my best friend during middle & high school – but the guilt? Where is that coming from?
Over the years, I’ve increasingly felt bad about the fact that I exist. I used to bring it up to my therapist that I didn’t want to exist, which she interpreted as wanting to die…which is not the same thing. It’s not the same thing at all. In addition to struggling with not wanting to exist, I also felt like I didn’t deserve to exist…and neither did anyone else. No one deserves to exist.
And if no one deserves to exist, no one deserves a birthday either.
Yet…I still felt a spark of joy in my heart for my birthday. I still wanted a day off from work to celebrate it, even if I felt bad about celebrating. I even gained a best friend – my husband – who can spend time with me on my birthday, so I no longer feel bitter about not having the people I want around. A lot of things are better in general.
Despite the joy in my heart and the improvements in my life, I felt guilt and bitterness for my birthday all the way up to the beginning of this year.
Then something changed.
What Changed Me
To understand this change, you need to know my journey. Luckily, I have this entire blog detailing that journey. Some of the best entries to get a sense of how I got to this point are in the year summary posts, which are the following:
[PERSONAL] A Look Back at 2020
[PERSONAL | MY DAY / CREATIVE WORKS | UPDATE] 2019 So Far!
[PERSONAL | MY DAY] Did 2018 Actually Exist?
[PERSONAL | MY DAY] 2017 in Review
[PERSONAL | RAMBLES] Good-Bye, 2016!
[PERSONAL | RAMBLES] See ya, 2015. Good Riddens!
[RAMBLES | YEAR OVERVIEW] Good-bye, 2014! It’s been a pretty good year!
[RAMBLES/YEAR OVERVIEW] Good-Bye, 2013!
2012 in Review
Good-bye 2011, Hello 2012!
If you don’t want to read them though, that’s totally fine. I’ll just summarize my journey the best I can for you.
I started having depression at some point I can’t remember. It worsened when I hit 18 and the adults in my life, who seemed really supportive of me and my work, all of a sudden seemed to turn around and reveal their true colors. I repeatedly got into fights with my parents about getting a job and was repeatedly told I was being immature. Looking back now, I can understand why they would say I was being immature and I agree, but not immature as in “childish”, but rather immature as in “underdeveloped”. The worst person for me was my therapist at the time who really crushed my dreams – they didn’t really get how I could write and publish books myself. To them, I would “have” to get an agent, a publisher, go through that route, but I knew I didn’t need to do that. I don’t know why my therapist’s doubt crushed me – maybe my mind remembered when she said I was talented and I thought that was support for my pursuit. I think too, I just trusted my therapist to help me, which, she was attempting to do that.
This lead me to a decade of being afraid to pursue my business, career choice, and being myself overall (something that arguably started even earlier during high school). Life wouldn’t let me forget about it though – just when I was making the decision to pack it away, let it not exist, just to do something “easier” and more “normal”, life punched me in the dang FACE and I soon found myself getting back to work on my business, which I eventually called TrainerKelly’s Network. When I got back to work on my business, I would end up quitting my job. I would also slow down work or completely stop on TKN when I started a new job. Soon, I felt lethargic, just floating day-by-day until life hit me in the face. Again.
My deepest depression was probably in 2015, when I separated from my therapist after she called me whimsical, my mom was selling her house, and everything I owned was packed into boxes and I had to live with minimum belongings. I realized people were useless in helping me – although the nicer way to put that today is that I’m the most helpful person to myself – and I had to do it myself. I wasn’t entirely alone (thanks to the divine), but I didn’t have human support in the areas I was looking for.
Pretty much up until 2015, I increasingly despised doing artwork because I was doing so much for other people. I was afraid of working on my stories except for my long-running fanfiction because they were such a core to my business that was “impossible” and I “couldn’t do”.
Okay, I probably have other lingering issues too, like the kid who used to always make fun of me in middle school asked to help me with my stories and I took it seriously and they had to be honest with me that they were just joking around…crushing to middle school me!
Oh and then there was a time when I was super depressed and told my best friend at the time that I “just wanted to write” and meant…I just wanted to write. I wanted to basically journal. My best friend took “I just want to write” as “I want to be an author” instead and started telling me it’s hard to make a living as a writer. So…also really crushing.
And then I had an interview with a company and when I went back because I was hired (I ultimately ended up not taking the job though), the HR person got all quiet when I mentioned my business and was like “oh…there must be a lot of competition”. Looking back though, I wonder if having such a big goal and dream sounded intimidating to them? Regardless, at the time, that also hurt.
Even though I never have actually stopped doing TrainerKelly’s Network, I had to wade through depression, anxiety, and a slew of doubt set up by other people I took on as my own.
I started to emerge from this though after 2015. I started to understand the necessity of putting myself first. I started being able to listen to the divine and myself more, getting an understanding of how I know I’m right when I’m right and how I know I’m wrong when I’m wrong. I ended up getting a job for the first time that was entirely of my choosing and not in obligation to please anyone else (which is exactly what all the jobs were before then).
I also had made a commitment to work on TrainerKelly’s Network.
Did I work on it all that much? No, not really. Not until recently, although I had long periods of working on it: setting up my online shop, attempting to work on comics, etc.. Some of the problem with those things though are that I often was thinking about other people, not me. I was doing comics because I thought they would “attract more people”. The online shop was, well, me getting ahead of myself.
Even still, I worked on it when I could muster it up.
I started working on it more in 2018 after I moved in with my dad and continued to work on it periodically in 2019. I started to ramp up in 2020 after I realized I was a failure, after reading Steal Like an Artist, and watching something different happen with the Black Lives Matter movement. I started to work on coming out of my shell, but had trouble keeping up – I need to learn more, dream more, and more importantly: get to DANG WORK on my stories!
It was difficult working during 2019, 2020, and even a bit during the beginning of this year. I was dealing with a lot of old thought patterns, including guilt for working on my business because I had the idea in my head that working on my business and getting it off the ground was me being “immature”. I also assumed too that the way my head feels when I’m being creative and generating my projects was also me being “immature” (something which I have learned isn’t).
I even felt guilty, terrified my dad was going to yell at me, when I was working a full-time job where I worked 10-hour work days for 8 days straight and then had 6 days off, and would be working on both TKN (TrainerKelly’s Network) and web development while doing the 80-hour work week. Yes, I felt guilty for working on my business.
In June 2020, I quit my job that I had wanted to leave for almost a year. I told everyone I was quitting for another job that had hired me, but that wasn’t true – I quit because I was going to be working on my business.
That other job got back to me and gave me an offer, I took it, and felt…immensely depressed. And angry.
Like, really, I was going through this ALL over again?
After talking to my mom and agreeing this was a provision, I focused on TKN and working the job.
Eventually, I had to pause working on TKN to get the hang of my job, particularly because I was finding it super difficult to concentrate at my workplace while working on TKN. I was okay during training, but I found that on the phone calls, I increasingly cared less about the caller (it was a work-at-home call center job).
In November, I could tell two things: 1.) if I continued with this job, it was going to make me SICK and 2.) I needed to work on my short stories.
I had already been slowly working on them, but I knew I needed to dedicate time and energy to them.
I called out for a few days, terrified about my dad yelling at me. Honestly, if there wasn’t a pandemic going on, I probably would have gone out and stayed out to avoid him (or anyone) like I would in the past. But I couldn’t this time. I worked from home AND there was still some low-level lockdown going on. Like holy craaaaaap, worst nightmare scenario there.
I did end up thinking about what I was doing, I communicated with my dad my plan including my honesty with TrainerKelly’s Network (he took it way better than I expected and by that I mean like…he didn’t yell at me or question me, other than what about when he retires in 2021), and put in my two weeks.
And then after not wanting to go and having computer trouble, I told the call center I wasn’t coming back. I shipped back the equipment out from my old workplace (aaaah, almost a full circle) and tried to go hard on writing my stories!
It was going pretty dang great. I was writing outlines. I handed control over to the divine and they…uuuhhh…took down both my desktop and laptop.
My mother, bless her – managed to get me a new laptop so I could start writing, which arrived right around the time I was hoping to start writing, which was shortly before the end of December.
In January 2021, I spent a lot of time working on my story outlines and working through the guilt for not applying to any new jobs.
In February 2021, I found myself being reunited with a part of me that had been lost and I learned to give myself space for all my ideas, my emotions, and well…everything. I found myself leaving February much calmer than I was when I started it.
March 2021 has carried over that sense, along with a general absence of guilt.
The calmness I felt lead me to be excited for my birthday and I realized something.
The Reason I Changed
This is going to sound really bad.
And you are probably going to think I sound conceited and egotistical.
I realized that…
I’m thankful for myself.
I KNOW! I KNOW!
Seriously, if I saw someone say that, I probably would think they were being shallow, conceited, and full of themselves…which says a lot about a part of my mind.
Religions (and not just Christianity either) advise against the Self! Christianity sings to the skies “GIVE ALL THE GLORY TO GOD”.
Yet, here I am, realizing I am thankful for myself.
I am thankful for myself because I showed up.
Despite all the doubt, all the fear, all the people speaking against me, I still showed up. Even if I didn’t show up every single day, I still showed up at some point. I still did the work when I could muster up the courage and energy to do so.
I showed up when I heard the loud, booming voice in my head in 2015 tell me that I will never be happy if I don’t do my business and even though it took me several months, I started working on it and haven’t truly stopped.
I showed up when I could tell I needed to quit my most recent job, despite all the fears and the guilt I had.
I showed up.
Yes, I know that I wasn’t alone. I definitely wasn’t alone.
But I had a choice.
I could have chosen not to show up.
I could have chosen fear to completely consume me.
I could have gone deeper into depression and deny the life I’m being called to.
But nah, I didn’t. I CHOSE to get up and do it. I CHOSE to get up and finally work on the calling I call “TrainerKelly’s Network”.
So, I decided this year, to actually celebrate me on my birthday. Because really, what better day is there than the day I was born?
Whether or Not I Deserve is Irrelevant
I am still SO excited about my birthday, despite it has already past. I’m thankful for each step my past self took so that I could be genuinely happy on my birthday this year. I’m thankful for each step present me takes as well to allow future me to have an even better birthday.
I think this brings up a good question though: do I still feel like we don’t deserve to exist? That we don’t deserve to celebrate our birthdays because we don’t deserve to exist?
My answer to that is whether or not we deserve to exist and whether or not we deserve to celebrate our birthdays is irrelevant.
We exist. We came from a womb, so we have been born into existence. (Whether or not this is our choice depends on your school of thought and your religious & spiritual beliefs…but we don’t need to get into that here.)
So it does not matter whether or not we deserve because we just are. We just is. We are here.
I think if celebrating your birthday or someone else’s enhances your human experience and helps to make it more meaningful and worthwhile, CELEBRATE!
If not, just leave it out.
A Thing to Remember
It’s a great thing to give yourself credit where credit is due, even if it’s just simply that you showed up.
(Of course, don’t do that if you find it doesn’t enhance your life! If you find yourself feeling bad, guilty, or anything of the sort after this…well, I invite you to reflect on the “why” in a curious, non-judgemental way – WHY do you feel bad? WHY do you feel guilty?)
THANK YOU FOR READING, (FUTURE) TRAINEE!
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