I turned 30 today. This is a huge milestone for me.
For a long time I didn’t think I would live to be 30. It was the goal, the distant point I hoped to reach. If I made it that far I imagined I would have lived a good life.
After yet another concussion in April, which brought about the worst depressive period of my life, things took a turn for the worse. It got so bad I almost didn’t make it.
BUT now here I am, at that legendary signpost. 30. And you know what, I feel more alive than ever.
When I was younger I never imagined my health would improve. I was often angry, depressed about my condition, and I rarely told others how I felt. A common coping mechanism, but a dangerous one.
Over time I believed I was a burden to the people I loved. It was only in my head, but I felt guilty for wanting to do things I liked, for spending money on anything that made me happy. I felt I didn’t deserve it.
I wish I could tell my younger self, “You shouldn’t feel guilty for being the way you are, for being alive. You have every right to be here.” Even though others tell you that, it can be hard to believe.
Now, at 30, I can say I’m truly happy being who I am, what I am. I have the love and support of my family, my friends, my partner. I love what I do, and I feel fulfilled doing it.
I’m disabled, I still have a lot of health issues, and there are things I can’t do, but I made it to 30, and now I want to make it to 40, 50, 60, to whatever. In recognition of that, and as a celebration, at the end of the month I’m starting on the sleeve tattoo I’ve wanted for years. It will be made possible with the help of some of my friends and family, as my birthday gift.
The sleeve will consist of illustrations from Tainaron, by Leena Krohn, my very favourite book. The book’s exploration of metamorphosis, and of embracing the strange and the unusual, helped me to better understand who I am, and to love myself more.
I’ll keep you all posted on how the process goes.
But in the meantime, thank you all for helping me reach this point. And for any of you doubting your self -worth or worrying that you might not make it, just know that you matter, your voices matter, and you absolutely deserve to be here.