COVID, World Mental Health Day, and Turning 34 Years Old

I turned 34 today, and this was the first year The Universe got me something for my birthday! It was COVID! Surprise! So thoughtful, right?

I managed to dodge that sucker for 3 years and it finally caught up with me. The fun part is... I had a booster vaccine appointment canceled on me three weeks ago because they didn't have enough supply, and the next available appointment I could get was for tomorrow.

So The Universe gave me COVID as an early birthday present.

It was awful.

I can't even imagine what it would've been like to get one of the nastier strains. I was in bed for almost a full three days, having fever dreams and feeling like garbage as practically every muscle in my body cried out in pain. I sweat so hard in the night that I woke up worried I soiled myself lol. I was pro-vaccine before, but after all that, I really like the vaccine now.

<psa>Get your shot, folks. Catching COVID is not a fun time and it'll kill Grandma.</psa>

Thankfully I was done being bedridden by the time my birthday rolled around, even if I had a constant headache and low-key muscle aches. I felt well enough to do a short, rainy hike in Discovery Park with my dog. It was the first time in four days that I went outside, and that felt amazing. I spent the rest of the day on the couch exhausted from the hike but it was well worth it.

On the hike, I spent a lot of time thinking about where I'm at in life, my mental health journey, and what's next. Turns out today is World Mental Health Day so it was a pretty good time for me to be doing that sort of introspection!

The rest of this post contains those thoughts, somewhat refined but likely incoherent.

At 34 years old, I am now officially older than Jesus! Wonder if he had a reason for calling it quits at 33... Is it all downhill from here? Maybe I should take a page out of his book.

I jest, I jest. Although my mom would appreciate it if I read scriptures more often!

But 34 does feel... different.

Something about crossing that barrier where you're now in the second third of a century. One-third of my life is over. I've got a great deal more to go, but that last third probably isn't going to be nearly as good as the first third, barring some dramatic change in health technology.

So I'm a third of my way done with my time on the giant spaceship we call Earth, and what have I done so far?

Well, I've become a pretty solid software engineer and do good work.

I've discovered and cultivated a myriad of hobbies (rock climbing, reading, gaming, programming, cooking, political science, Internet privacy, and writing, to name a few).

I've figured out that I have anxiety and depression disorders. I know that I'm a perfectionist. But I also have impostor syndrome. My ability to fully embrace cognitive dissonance is astounding, as I know that I am an excellent programmer but will be fired at any moment when they realize I'm just figuring it out as I go.

I've kept a dog alive for almost a decade now and he's the bestest boi in da hole wurld and I luv him so so much it hertz and I wanna rub his bely and snuggl his cute lil butt & giv him scritches 4 daysss. ๐Ÿฆด๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฅฐ

I've figured out how to manage my finances to the point where I'm saving so much I feel poor by the time my paycheck hits the checking account (you're welcome, future me).

I have much better relationships with my family and my partner than I did a decade ago.

I've learned that I'm a night owl and that the traditional corporate hours of 8 to 5 were a huge part of what wreaked havoc on my mental health (besides the consulting industry's exploitation of starry-eyed college grads who don't know enough to say "no" when they're asked to regularly work 50+ hour weeks).

I've learned that I love working from home and being able to control my workplace and that I will never, ever, ever do more than a 20-minute commute again. Ideally by bus or bike or walking. Driving sucks. I like being able to go into the office once every month or so to meet up with co-workers, socialize, and do long-term planning in person!

I've developed a variety of coping mechanisms to manage my mental health and do a solid job at avoiding the deepest chasms of despair from my anxiety and depression. Still not perfect, but I'm getting better all the time.

I know that I'm going to be a complete mess once my dog passes away. But he's a champ. Still going strong at 9 years old. People think he's a puppy! He'll never die, so why even think about that?

I worry about what my impact will be on this world and have to remind myself that none of this will matter once the universe dies of heat-death. As long as I'm making my little corner of the universe better by being a good citizen, being kind to friends, acquaintances, and strangers, and making myself and my loved ones happy, I'm doing pretty good.

That's a pretty decent list of stuff that I've discovered about myself. Enough that I feel confident I can navigate the next 34 years even better than the previous.

And that's good enough for me.

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