I turned 36 today. I love birthdays because they present a marker in the landscape of time rich with reflection and opportunity for redirection.
I am living in a country that was never on my ‘list’. I have a boyfriend who is 6 years younger than me. I own 4 boxes and 3 suitcases of stuff: the collection of my entire existence in physical form. I have traveled the world since I was 19. I have a business that supports me made up of dreams and imagination. I am a mess on paper.
This is 36. It is not what I ever imagined 36 would look like. I spent my entire life waiting to arrive at adulthood, only to realise that I have already arrived, and that it’s nothing like what I thought it would be.
If I had taken the traditional route I would have married one of the first two men who proposed to me. The Australian business student I met in my second year at university and dated for 2 years. Or the British bookmaker who brought me a sanctuary of stability when I was crawling my way out of a stimulant-fueled number of years working at music festivals. Maybe had babies. Possibly would have settled for ‘less than’ my soul calling.
But I didn’t. I wanted to lean into the discomfort of going beyond social expectations and live a life that was truly my own: heart-led, soul-compelled, intuitive living. My devotion to this took me places I had never imagined I would go.
I spent my entire youth chasing experiences. Strong, powerful, intense experiences that I would either embrace or recoil from. I needed the contrasts to understand what I had to choose from in life. This birthday feels like the year that I have been reaping everything I have been manifesting and sowing in the past 8 years.
36: is the answer to my prayers when I was 28, my hopes when I was 29, my fears when I was 30, what broke me when I was 31, my dreams when I was 32, what I surrendered to when I was 33, what I worked towards when I was 34, and what I let go of when I was 35.
36 is the fruit of a 9 year cycle.
Staring at my computer screen, listening to my new loves list on Spotify, I am trying to remember the tangible turning points that brought me to where I am now. How did it happen, for all those things to have come true?
There was a year of my life that brought me to my knees and broke down my walls until all that was left was pure vulnerability. I learned to say things like “I don’t know.” “Please help me.” “This hurts.” “I am confused.” “I am doing my best.” “I am sorry.” “This is what it feels like.” Often. With my walls down I started to learn to receive and ask for what I wanted.
I learned compassion: I fucked up, more than once. I got into a relationship that was neither healthy nor kind. And there were friends who held me through my painful lessons. And those that pushed me away when I most needed someone to say “Yes, you made a mistake. But it’s ok.” It taught me to open my arms and help catch those I love when they fall.
All that vulnerability and compassion gave me a sense of direction. I had to know what I wanted, and then not be afraid to ask for it, or go for it. Knowing, asking, receiving: they sound so simple, so obvious. Why was I having to learn such basic human principles? I don’t know if it’s just me, or of we all go through a pattern of learning, but I certainly did.
Learning to tune into my desires by following my curiosity, my excitement, those little sparks of light that came from nowhere and made no logical sense brought me to know what I want, moment to moment. Learning to say to myself first and foremost secretly, and then to the world more boldly, things like “I want to travel the world, once when I am young, and once when I am old.” “I want to make money on my terms.” “I want a home to call my own”. Because those things bring me happiness, freedom, joy. Learning to work towards those desires full of devotion, devoid of expectations. I found fulfilment in the process instead of the outcome and found that I can submerge myself entirely when I don’t care what the results are.
Today, lying on my stomach on our bed, typing I am so grateful for every single moment that has brought me here. I have learned so much, and am excited to learn some more, to taste the width and the breadth of life and sip up every encounter with an open-hearted enthusiasm. I don’t know what is next but I do know that 36 is a the playground for my future self.