It’s my birthday this month. And I hate it already.
I’ve tried to rally myself into being a birthday party person, but I can’t. I can’t bring myself to invite people to a party who’s theme is…me. Like, people have shit to do. Groceries. Walking the dog. There are like a hundred million Netflix originals to watch.
And this year, there’s too much pressure to have a blow-out bash with 10,000 of my closest friends, go on some life-changing trip to Thailand, or do some charitable work that I can stab everyone in the heart with, on Instagram.
Living in Hollywood, as a professional actress, it’s required of me that I never state my age, to anyone, ever. If I should get carded, I shall put upon my face a pleasant, glowing, ageless expression: “You don’t look that old” “Ahahahaha oh you!” God forbid someone get the wrong idea about me: that I’m not fun, that I’m not cool, that I’m not valuable. Hey —I was not cool, or fun — and I was definitely insecure about my value in life — at 21! ISSUES ARE TIMELESS.
But this year, I keep telling myself, “This isn’t where I thought I would be.” And not in that cool, blogger, latte way where the phrase is followed up with “…it’s even MORE than I ever could have imagined.” NO. No, it is not. It is much less.
I’m not a mother, but every time I see a post where a friend is cuddling her beautiful children, proclaiming that this is what living really is, or this is the greatest thing a woman can ever do… I find myself thinking, is it? Did I not get a biological clock? Will I never know what it feels like to be a woman?? So far my female experience has been limited to standing in Rite Aid, texting pics of tampon boxes to my sister, and writing, “Nothing feels more feminine than the word ‘JUMBO’ on a box of Tampax. ‘Here’s your period stuff, whale.'”
*That’s me, existing in the great tradition of women. Nailed it.
But since I don’t have kids (or want my own), I can focus all my energy on my career! That’s nice. At least I work in a profession that has clear stepping stones on the rise to fame and fortune — omg, no! I picked the worst career ever!! I think I have better chances of being eaten by a shark, on a plane, struck by lightning, than I do of landing an amazing role.
And to be honest, I also thought I’d be married by now. Basically everyone else is, right? Whyyyyyyyy has no one ever asked me? (Please no one answer this — I’m too fragile to hear suggestions.) I know I’m supposed to be glad for all the mistakes I’ve made, and the lessons I’ve learned, but this is an area where I have a million regrets. I fell in love with people that didn’t love me. I tried to be this person that changed people for the better. Thanks for the scars, fellas. I’m still trying to heal some of them, decades later.
But as I get older, I think… do I even want to be married? Like, thank God I didn’t cash in on my original wedding dress and ring ideas — my taste in fashion and men has totally changed. (Turns out I no longer like cheaters, or taffeta! Phew.)
I am currently in my longest relationship to date. With someone who is honest, and loyal, and loves me as unconditionally as a human being can. And I’m grateful for that. He’s been married before, so “been-there-done-that.” Being with him might mean I never get married, and most of the time I’m ok with that. Most of the time, I don’t see our status as my own inadequacy. (But sometimes I do).
And I’m grateful for the moments when I get to act in a commercial, or shoot a film, or even write my own scripts (my laptop, my rules). I wish I got to do it all of the time. I wish all I had to do was show up to set every day. In a way, that part’s easy. It’s the hustle that can kill your soul.
The other day, I burned palo santo in my apartment and basically smoked out my boyfriend, trying to “rid us of negativity (and oxygen).” But my real daily struggle lies in my head. Constant. Little. Messages. That I’ve skillfully designed to need no interpretation. They simply go straight to my jugular.
“Your legs are fat.” (Alternate with “arms”, “gut”, “fingers”, “face”)
“[While eating pizza] Successful (skinny) actresses don’t eat pizza.” (Sub in any other food that isn’t kale.)
“_________ just booked ________. My career is nothing.” (Currently very frustrated with acting-related things. Not gonna lie.)
“My life is almost over.” (Ok, no one knows whether this is true, so…)
“What if I never do anything with my life.” (*suffocating*)
“No one really needs me.” (But you all better cry convincingly at my funeral.)
“_________ is wrong with you. That’s why your career sucks.”
“You’re too old.”
“You’re not funny.”
“No one wants you.”
Well, this is a depressing post. Wanna watch a puppy jump off the sofa?
I would never say any of this to anyone, but myself. If you came to me like, “…I dunno, I just feel like I’m kinda…” I’d be right in there with “— YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL! And amazing! So talented and smart!”
I’m hard on myself because I want to succeed. I’ve sacrificed a lot to be where I am right now — even if I haven’t reached my goals. But that kind of pressure isn’t healthy, and it’s not sustainable. Those things aren’t even true, and they’re killing me.
“Haaaaaappy birrrrrrthdaaaay toooooo youuuuuu…”
Wait. We cannot go out on these vibes. I am honestly grateful for a few things. Number one: my sister died when she was 8, my uncle died when he was 40, and plenty of other loved ones haven’t been lucky enough to live a long life. I’m grateful to be here. I’m healthy, I have a car that runs, an apartment that I share with a great guy, a day job, and occasionally, work that I am truly passionate about. I have family and friends who I love, and who love me too. There is sun in Los Angeles, more often than there are clouds. And there are moments — just fleeting moments — where I feel like I could fly.
So. Screw birthdays. I’m looking forward to celebrating sustainable joy. TBD.