On Birthdays and Transformative Years
Today is the last day of one year in my life. Tomorrow, my life cycle changes out its last digit for a higher number.
With the exception of 2016, for over 10 years now, I’ve gone to Galveston to watch the sunrise around my birthday. I went today, the day before my birthday because tomorrow I have to go to Texas DPS to get my Real ID and, because my license is expiring, I insist on getting a new photo.
No, seriously. The last one I took was around 3 PM, I was born in August, I live in Texas, and I’d been outside for most of the morning. It was not a pretty look.
But, ever since the hour long drive to Galveston this early morning, I’ve been thinking about the past year, and the radical changes that have happened throughout one strange, unbelievable, mostly house bound year.
Conclusion: I think the last time I saw a transformation like this was 2004–2005. August 16, 2004 Bethany would never have seen how that year played out. She got to work on a Presidential campaign, a bad relationship that should never have become a marriage ended at her hands, and she found a strange new online site called MySpace.
For more years than I would like to admit, I’ve had trouble regulated emotions. It’s a huge shame I carry, and a honestly, it’s a huge part of not feeling good enough. Some people appreciate my ability to look at an apple and call it an apple, but it’s not an appreciated ability in the mainstream.
I’ve been “too direct” my whole life that I have found workarounds. When friends ask me for an opinion, I know now to ask: “do you want my honest opinion or do you want me to tell you what you want to hear?” I know now how to temper words and feelings. I know which people I can tell the honest truth to and which friends I can’t and, therefore, leave at a distance.
Still, sometimes my thoughts get the better of me. Languishing in, “that’s the way it was always done” or, “you’re not in charge” has never been my strong suit if I think there’s a better approach. And, while this attitude can be problematic for men in their careers, more often they’re seen as trailblazers, leaders, transformative professionals, but for women? It’s far more harmful to our careers and the terms used for us are far too difficult to come to terms with, let alone write out loud here.
I beat myself up more times than I can count for the amount of times I’ve sent an email that most people wouldn’t, because I simply wanted to help an organization do better, only to be met with meetings where it was obvious I was the problem, not the solver. Yet, this is the biggest compliment people give me in references.
So, finally realizing this is my brain, that I’m definitely neurodivergent, that I need to learn how to work with my brain and its challenges, find the right environment for me — and that’s all okay, has been life changing.
Because it means that I can’t control my thoughts, my feelings, no matter how much I may want to and that shouldn’t be a freeing thought, but it is. It means I didn’t fail to be typical. It meant I never could be. And, oh, what a gift.
It means looking at what I actually am: a person who can usually see from A to Z without needing to process the rest, with clarity and simplicity is talented. That my view point isn’t wrong, it’s incredibly valid. That, sure, it takes other people time to get there, but they get there eventually. It means that writing is what I was meant to do, that it helps me process all the noise into my head through a funnel so I can concentrate on the most important part first.
It means that all the wonderful things ever said about me are incredibly true and all the bad things were said without having a complete understanding that they are wrapped up in all of the wonderful things.
It means second chances for so many things, in ways that look very different than I ever thought they would, and nurturing myself instead of beating up on a gorgeous thinker, who believed no one loved her for most of the years between the last transformative year to this one. Note: I’m still struggling with that last point.
It means that there is more hope for the year ahead than fear, for maybe the first time in my adult life. It also means I have a deeper appreciation for those who loved me for me for all of those years before the term ADHD became a necessary addition in my world and allowed me to be honest about my brain this past year.