I looked in the mirror today and thought… ‘Huh, I’m actually starting to look my age’. It’s not just the lines on my face or the sprouting grey hair. It seems that my general appearance and body language is saying, ‘This is who I am, take it or leave it,’ and I can really tell I mean it.
The older I get the less I give a shit about what others think. Everyone’s so wrapped up in their own lives it’s ridiculous to think they even care. But it’s taken years to realise that I’m not the centre of the universe. I’m only as important to people as they are to me, and the world doesn’t owe me or anyone any favours. Make the best of what you have. It’s so simple and true, and for once I understand it.
Tomorrow is my 34th birthday, and as I wandered the cemetery this afternoon on another of Vancouver’s grey and drizzly days, I thought about how damn lucky I am to have so many wonderful people in my life. I’ve literally hit the jackpot with a sense of community and a stimulating job, and even though I feel like the most ordinary and uninspiring version of myself right now, I actually feel the happiest.
I spent many of my nomadic years craving a community. Longing for the ability to round up a group of people at the drop of a hat for dinner, a party, or to hang out with in someone’s lounge room on a lazy Sunday morning. So for my 34th birthday I decided my celebration of life would involve just that, bringing together 34 people for Sunday breakfast in one of the most casual settings possible: my kitchen and lounge room. Not all 34 could make it, but those who came are some of my favourite friends that span the past nine years of my life.
It was the first time I’ve felt comfortable combining my different worlds, and I realised this afternoon it’s because I’m finally comfortable with who I am. I can be the same person around my 25-year-old friends as I am around my 35-year-old friends. I behave the same, I dress the same, and I have the same conversations, because I’ve fully embraced the 34-year-old me.
This may not sound like a big deal, but I used to feel like many different people: The Australian Rozanne, the Middle East Rozanne, the Canadian Rozanne, the PCT Rozanne, and the family Rozanne. My life seemed so incredibly different in all of these scenarios because I lacked my own setting. I was immersed in the culture of other people’s lives, living experience-to-experience, and fitting in with other’s routines and schedules in-between. I was a real-life serial nomad, and I’ve come to realise that existence lacks an important sense of belonging.
When I walked the Camino in 2014 in the wake of the PCT and four months of working in Abu Dhabi, I realised what I craved the most was a permanent address, full time friends, and a community of people who share the same interests.
For the past 1.5 years I’ve been building that life, and today I realised it’s slowly coming together. It’s probably one of my most satisfying achievements, because it’s grown so organically and because it’s not an easy thing to find.
So on the eve of yet another year on this planet, I’m so grateful for my friends and family, for those who still listen to me ramble on, and for each new line of wisdom that appears on my aging face. If I can feel this good every birthday, I’ll know I’m doing something right.