by | Jun 2, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday.

Every year, on the night before my birthday, I write a post about my year. I’ve been doing this for ten years now. I write and reflect on my life and it’s a tradition that has stayed with me since I started this blog during my time at university. In preparing for this post, I read the last few entries for twenty-seven, twenty-eight and twenty-nine and I marvel at how my life has been shaped into this beautiful new story, with new characters, new opportunities and new twists and turns. That is all we really are. Stories. I am going to continue to tell mine because words are my legacy, every word I put down is something to leave behind, long after I’m gone. But I’m not going anywhere. I feel like I am only getting started.

Thirty is a milestone. It might just feel like another year or another number to someone else, but not to me. For me, thirty is an important plot point in my story. It’s a chance to move forward, to create a trail of ashes from the pages I want to leave behind from my twenties, it’s a chance to reflect on what has led me here, to this present moment. I am ready to step into the future with grace, gratitude and most importantly, love. I’m still working on loving myself, it’s a process. But I can say with a whole heart that I love my life. It’s not a perfect life, there is no such thing, but right now, I feel exceptionally close.

In February last year, I met the most incredible man. He showed me what love should feel like and he helped heal parts of me that I thought would be broken forever. He is the kindest, sweetest, funniest, most beautiful person I have ever known and my love for him deepens every single day. I am a spiritual person. I believe in a higher power, the power of the universe, the balance of the cosmos and that some things in life happen for a reason, and I know, with every fiber of my being that JJ was meant to find me and we were meant to be together. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to share this part of my journey with him. He’s my darling. He’s my one. He’s my best friend. And he truly has my heart. I am so glad that I found the courage and strength to give love a second chance. Many who would have walked a mile in my shoes and experienced the traumas and tribulations I endured during my twenties wouldn’t have been so open to accepting a new relationship and I trust someone new. But when I saw him, that day in the coffee shop, I just knew that I would be safe with him and I have never doubted that for a second, in the year and a half, we have been together. He feels like home.

In March of this year, we took a brave and bold step and now we have a beautiful home that we can call ours. Right now, as I write these words, I can hear the birds chirping outside and there is a cool, summer breeze drifting in from the window. From the beautiful wooden floors to the white ceilings, this house is filled with love, it’s filled with laughter and so many lovely memories already and we have only lived here for a short while. I feel at peace with him here. This is a sanctuary for us to grow together, to experience life, the highs, the lows and everything in between. It hasn’t been an easy transition from my old life into creating a new one. I started the year 2022 living in a small box room at my mother’s house, then I experienced living in my own apartment for six months, before moving here with my man to start the next chapter in our story.

I’ve never liked change. I’m autistic. So naturally, my brain doesn’t like adapting to new things, especially those that happen suddenly and without much time to process. But I am proud of myself for getting through the hard times and now I finally feel settled, I feel happy and although changes in life are inevitable, I am just happy to be standing still. I have space to breathe, to take it all in and I feel blessed for everything that I have. I got my story shared on the National Autistic Society website, which was a great honour. My autism journey is still ongoing, I am still discovering and trying to understand myself, my disability and the way I perceive the world around me, I will be writing more about this on my blog soon.

The past year has given me so much joy and light. Some memories that I will always remember are: publishing The First Line Poets Anthology, moving into my first apartment and living on my own, visiting new places (Bromley, Clitheroe, Nottingham), having a housewarming at my apartment and another lovely housewarming at this current house, spending my first Christmas in my apartment with my man, watching my nephew grow and seeing him take his first steps, hosting a Halloween party at my apartment for all our friends, going to the 90’s baby pop concert with my sister and celebrating our first year anniversary by recreating our first date. There has been so much fun in my life including concerts and funfairs, crazy golf, nature walks, ice skating, rollerblading, bowling, book launches, publishing fairs, theatre and cinema trips, meals, my friend’s wedding and so many moments spent with friends, family and the people I love.

I also think about all the moments I am proud of, that have happened in the last 365 days. I think about every stage I have stood on to perform my poetry, some highlights include performing at C Arts Festival, Salford Arts Theatre, Switchblade, ShapeShift, Blue Balloon, and most recently, Express Yourself (being called “great” by the legendary Mike Garry is definitely a highlight). I got my poems featured on BBC Radio twice this year too!

I’ve also learned a lot this year, I’ve picked up playing the piano again after years of not having one, I’ve been learning Japanese, I’ve got new interests including playing Animal Crossing and watching Anime. I started volunteering at an autism community centre and I’m planning to get back into the classroom again in September, after three years of leaving the education sector, I finally feel ready to return, albeit not as a teacher.

This has been a creative year. There have been so many songs and poems, I couldn’t tell you how many I have written because I honestly don’t know, I just know that it’s a lot! There are so many exciting things coming and I can’t wait to reveal my plans regarding my writing career. I will always write and I will always create because I believe it’s what I was put on this earth to do. I will always romanticise my life. I will always have a good heart and do everything with good intentions because that is who I am. Life is hard sometimes. I have had my fair share of problems and obstacles to overcome this year and I’m still trying to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be. But I’m learning, I’m growing, and that is what we are all here to do, to absorb everything, to feel it all, to leave pieces of ourselves behind. I still have so much wisdom to gain in my life but I will leave you with this advice…

Create a life that feels good on the inside. Do things that spark joy in your heart. Make memories and record it all. Have people around you that make you a better person. Let go of feelings and people that no longer serve you. Love fiercely. Be brave. Be bold. Take risks when it comes to your dreams. You have the power to create a beautiful life for yourself. I’ve done it. I have a wonderful life full of beautiful people, beautiful experiences and so many beautiful moments that I cherish. But the most exciting feeling is knowing that some of my greatest memories haven’t happened yet, some of my greatest achievements are still ahead of me and some of my greatest pages haven’t been written. My pen is ready. Chapter Thirty begins now.

Love and light, EJ

Written by Emma-Jane Barlow

 Emma-Jane Barlow is a 30 year-old author, poet, writer and autism advocate from the UK. She has been writing poetry since the age of seven and finds comfort in writing about her life experiences. She has two published books and is currently working on a third.

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