birthday header 25

(Happy) Birthday

A look back at feelings on birthdays over the years, how it was and how it can be.

Before I get started: I’d like to just say a huge thank you to all of you who have checked out this blog, subscribed, commented and reached out in the days since I’ve posted it. I really appreciate it, and every single message and interaction meant the world to me.

December 19th 2023

A week ago the day came I was initially dreading for months. The big 25th birthday, now closer to 50 than to 0. It was scary, exciting and a strong point of reflection. In the days and months following 24,  the weight that this would be such a huge one was weighing on me. Turning 15, then 18 and 20, I’ve had grand visions of what I would have achieved by 25. The list was long, ambitious and completely unrealistic. Deep down, I’ve always known it, but still, 7 years, I thought I could make it. I’d be famous, well-off financially, and doing work that was important to me. If I’d have all of these, I’d be happy. I just had to achieve all of these. Well… I didn’t. Still, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

Most of these “grand bucket list” things, I didn’t do. Most of the goals I’ve set out back then, faded into oblivion, changed or I completely abandoned.

Yet, this was the happiest birthday I’ve had in years. The day I once used to fear, turned out to be the most fun in a long time, and it’s in most part thanks to my amazing partner (in crime and life) Natalia. She organised the day full of surprises, from an evening in our favourite speak-easy in Milan, to the most delicious home-cooked breakfast and all our favourite activities, and some time to just be grateful on the couch, with her and Cosmo. It was blissful. It wasn’t just the amazing planning on her behalf, I think it was also a big shift in mindset. I haven’t done most of the things I once aspired to do, but, I am truly happy with how things turned out. I’ve gotten so much more from life than I could have ever asked for. Natalia, once you read this, thank you. It was the best birthday I could ever have imagined, by far ❤️.

Over the past years, the 13th of December was always a polarising day.

On the one hand, it was always amazing. I appreciated my friends and family taking the time to celebrate with me, spend time making memories and devouring cheat meal after cheat meal. I didn’t want the day to end, tried to cram in as many activities as possible, and push until my eyes literally were closing. It usually was a day, where I wouldn’t be in my mind, where I’d forget the world existed and just feel child-like joy.

On the other, I dreaded it. In the days leading up to it, it would be a time of reflection, looking back at the year that had gone, and tallying up the wins and losses. Looking back, I was too focused with the wrong metrics and things, which was a large part of the weight of the day. I’d not admit it, but mentally compare where I was and where I wanted to be by that time, often accepting the harsh reality that the difference was staggering. The other thing, I didn’t want the day to end. This was my day. This was an action packed day. So many things were happening and going on, that I forgot the woes of the world for a little bit. After sleeping it off, it would be back to normal again.

Back to anxiety, stress, and applying the same principles to daily life – throw myself from project to project, to not give myself any time to think, reflect or be on my own. It was a vicious cycle, and it finally broke in April, at the peak of my illness. It was worst thing I ever experienced, but also the best thing that could have happened. It was a grand reset.

Since April, I’ve taken time off to focus on myself, my mental health and physical well being. I’m learning to love myself the way I am, and to accept myself. Setting healthy boundaries is never easy, especially as self-diagnosed people pleaser. Yet, step by step, I’m getting better at it, learning that the word “No” is not something negative but positive. I’m learning to take time to reflect on things, and giving my emotions a controlled space to live out. No longer are they being compressed, pushed off for “later” and replaced by constant stream of work and responsibilities. I’m practicing gratitude, and appreciating the little things, from a nice evening in, reading an interesting book, the cat cozy and purring in my lap and Natalia with her book on the other side of the couch. Every day I have gotten since, was an earned day. Another chance at life, and one that I want to use. A new lease on life, you could say.

Now 25, I’m getting ready for the journey to 30. I once again have some grand ambitions, but they are more grounded and focused on things I control and are achievable. They are not based as much on external metrics, as on things and experiences I’d like to do.

Some of them include:

  1. Writing this blog for the next 5 years, consistently, every week, sharing and learning

  2. Getting to a point of financial income where I can support the charities, volunteers and organisations making meaningful change in the world. In a perfect world, it would be hundreds of thousands. Realistically, I’d like it to be 10% every month of my earnings. This month, I’ve chosen to donate funds to Partners In Health, and their Center of Excelence in Sierra Leone. If you’d like to support them to, here’s a direct link.

  3. I’d like to do work that’s meaningful to me, which advances us, and which will bring joy.

  4. I would like to give my creativity the space it deserves, making time every week to explore, tell stories and just create.

  5. One last ambition, I’d like to release a book and a movie. I don’t know yet about what, how, or when. But there’s stories that deserve to be heard, seen and experienced. With the advent of AI, text-to-image and text-to-video, I’m excited to see what the future holds.

I’ve transitioned into this next stage of life with a positive outlook. I’m excited for what the future holds, where our adventures will take us, and for every day to come. There’s a lot of updates to share over the next weeks, from my departure from my job, the next chapter of The Codeero Group and exiting new developments in life.

There’s finally moments again where I’m happy, where the world looks like a good place to be. That’s exciting! So here’s to the next great 5 years.

Post Scriptum:

Thank you for tuning in. I’m still finding my voice and style, and will be experimenting a lot. I want to find a good balance between some of the harder topics, the positive outlooks, life updates and exciting stories.

I don’t want to sound too ungrateful for what I have, or to worry anyone. I’m super appreciative of the things life has given me, and I’m in a stable and good spot. I want to highlight the challenges we can face, the bias to mental health we often don’t see and what can happen if it’s abandoned for too long. If you have any suggestions, feedback, thoughts or comments, ideas or strategies, please hit reply, and the email will land straight in my inbox.

Until next week with my warmest regards from cold Amsterdam,


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *