Today is my 33rd birthday. If you’re into numerology, you’re probably all like “WHOA MARISA IS TURNING 33 ON THE 22ND THIS IS SOME MASTER NUMBER MOJO.” If you’re not into numerology, then, like, that’s cool too. You’re probably just like “Oh, hey! It’s Marisa’s birthday.” Which is a perfectly normal reaction.
Original photo by Markus Spiske
Birthdays are times for taking stock and making plans and figuring out trajectories and such. At least, they are for me.
If you’ve been around these parts for a while, then you know that I’m a big fan of goals and fresh starts and making plans. I love breaking up tasks into the smallest possible piece, and then achieving those little pieces so that I eventually conquer that big hairy, scary goal. I also absolutely love the idea of living the life I want. So, that’s what we’re talking about today.
It’s my party and I’ll make plans and goals if I want to, y’all.
And I would like to note for the record that I’m not one of those people who gets all sad on their birthday. You will not hear me bemoan the aging process or how I feel old in my thirties. Because I don’t. Honestly, I’m the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been, and it’s a direct result of doing hard stuff when I was younger. I feel like I’m exactly the age I’m supposed to be, and I’m super excited for everything coming at me.
It should also be noted that I’m incapable of feeling nostalgia. I never look back and think, “Man, those were the glory days.” Mostly because the good ol’ days were shit.
But I’ll get back to that in a bit. Anyway, here’s what I’m looking forward to.
Goals for my 33rd Birthday
001: Set up my dream job.
I’ve mentioned this a little already, but I think I’m finally seeing how everything is going to come together and where the money is going to come from. Everything feels like it’s within reach, and that I’m getting to where I’ve always wanted to be. I feel really hopeful. On the verge of burnout, but hopeful.
I’m not saying that by this time next year that everything is going to be different, but I am saying that there are a lot of changes on the horizon. I have big plans for the books I’m going to write, the essays I’ll sell to major publications, and the writing retreats I’ll be organizing. I don’t want to say too much about all of this right now, just because some of the details are up in the air and the ideas aren’t done cooking yet. But it’s coming. Things are happening.
I totally talked about this a little on Instagram on Saturday.
002: Find an agent.
My manuscript is getting to the place where I don’t cower in fear at the idea of sharing it with others. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m getting to the point as a writer where everything isn’t an axe to grind, so the story is flowing much more smoothly. I’m genuinely excited for this book, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
(I almost shelved it completely, you guys. But there was something in the back of my head that said no. Do you want to hear about that? I could totally do a post on it.)
I think I’m going to go the traditional publishing route with this story — or at least try to. I have nothing against self-publishing, and there are many instances where it’s the more lucrative choice. For me, this is what I’m choosing to do at this time. And rest assured I’ll be sharing the process here.
003: Write daily.
This one is mostly in the bag. But it’s a reminder. This is why I’m here on this planet. This is the one thing that I want to do. It’s the only thing that really quells my anxiety. Writing is my one true love, and everything else comes second.
In my early years, I didn’t always make time for it. I didn’t always do it regularly. I didn’t always honor it as a gift. I mostly wrote because I was good at it, and could get away with not giving my all on school assignments. But I’m done treating it that way. From here on out, me and writing are officially in a committed and loving relationship where we respect each other’s boundaries. Mostly. I mean, I still show up to write in dog hair-covered yoga pants, so our boundaries are pretty stretched.
004: Go on quarterly solo retreats.
My time at St. Francis of the Woods was amazing. I’m really sad I haven’t taken more time to do stuff like that in my life. I love getting away to simply write, and I know I need it to be happy. So, this year, I’m going to do it more often. My plan is to do it quarterly, maybe as a way to celebrate achieving quarterly goals, but mostly as a way to just practice self-care.
I’ll definitely be spending some time at St. Francis of the Woods again, but I think I will need other retreat locations as well. Bonus points if they have a nice bathtub where I can sit and soak. Even more bonus points if they don’t have a TV. Infinity bonus points if they’re affordable. It’s a lot to ask, I know. But if you have some suggestions, throw them in the comments.
005: Travel once a month.
Ask me the last time I went on vacation. It was when I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Yes, I’ve gone to conferences, but those don’t count. There is nothing relaxing about conferences when you’re an introvert.) For someone who dreams of being a travel writer, I’m definitely not traveling enough. So, I need to change that.
I’ve arranged my teaching schedule next semester to support a travel habit. And while my paycheck doesn’t support cross-country monthly travel, I can definitely road trip my way to some pretty fun destinations. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t already have New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri mapped out for Marisa’s great escapes. And there are several stops mapped out on the Great Oklahoma Odyssey too!
006: Stop fitting in.
This is something I’ve been working on for the past year or so, and damn. It’s hard. For a long time, self-preservation was important, and there weren’t many spaces I could be myself. I learned young to fit in, smooth out rough spots, and just do things that make people like you because that’s how you get people to leave you alone and stop paying attention to you. This is why I’m not a “good ol’ days” sort of girl. I wasn’t enjoying my time. I was biding it. Until like age 29.
Now that I’m a crass old spinster, I don’t feel like I need to fit in. I’m also getting to a point where I don’t care what people think of me, and honestly, I don’t need anyone else’s approval. It’s a weird feeling when I say it out loud (or type it on this blog) but it’s a good feeling. So I will probably be sharing the process of how I got there and the ways I’ve been fitting in my whole life as well as my ambivalent relationship with who I was in the past.
(Can we talk about how being in your thirties is hella stressful? Seriously. You’re going to rehab or therapy or becoming aware of what’s actually happening/getting bad habits under control and it’s SO EXHAUSTING to make it all right.)
(I can’t speak for everyone in their thirties. I base this on anecdotal evidence, which is all I have to go on.)
(Also, the people I know who didn’t do it in their thirties definitely are doing it in their forties.)
Do You Set Birthday Goals?
Are you a birthday goal sort of person? If so, what did you decide for your last birthday? Any advice about turning 33? Can you totally see the numerological influence of the master numbers on this post?
I am 11 days away from my 38th birthday and in panic mode to an extent. It’s taken me about 4-5 years just to get my mental health under control. Now I have other shit to handle and things I want to achieve all while being not quite sure how to accomplish it. I’m pretty much done with being in survival mode but I’ve been in it for so long that getting out is a flaming pile of WTF. Baby steps, yo. I’m learning and staying focused on self-awareness. At least that’s a good start.
That really is a good start. And I know what you mean about being in survival mode. It can be hard to recalibrate.
When I feel like it’s taken me too long to get where I am, or that I have big obstacles in front of me that I am where I’m supposed to be and it took me as long as it took me to get there because it had to take that long. It keeps me from feeling paralyzed or from playing “what if” games.
First of all, Happy Birthday. Secondly, congratulations on being the kind of person who sets goals and defines a plan to achieve them. I was a plant manager for 20+ years. You wouldn’t believe the number of people I interviewed who got the “deer in the headlights” expression when I asked where they saw themselves 5 years down the road.
I think you have a sound approach to your goals and I’m confident you will acheive them.
Thanks so much, Russell!