I’ve been staring at myself in the mirror for the last hour or so.

I’ve always had issues with looking people in the eye until one day a few years ago I read a random passage on the Web about how movie actors are trained to focus on the other person’s eye, the eye farthest from the camera. Or is it closest to the camera? Either way, this trick nonetheless helped me focus on the person I’m facing.
And when you face yourself — as in, look into the depths of your own soul — for the first time in 30 years, you learn a few things.

  1. When you’re sad, it really shows.
  2. When you’re trying to put on a smile, you’re not fooling anybody.
  3. It’s high time to get a haircut, especially with this excuse of a hairline.
  4. Surprisingly, wiggling just your right ear is 100 times more difficult to do than wiggling your left.

Being 30 years old, at least within the year of being age 30, was challenging. I had just moved to the Boston area, primarily to focus on building a career. But it’s been predominantly a journey of personal growth. Within this year, I have realized that, for most of my life, I have been unconscious. I was unaware of how I was living my life. I was becoming more aware of the lengths I would go to please people. My mind would get the better of me by worrying about things I could not control.

I found peace this summer when I learned insight meditation. As with many aspects of my life (writing fiction in high school, dancing Argentine tango for the past five years, etc.), when I am involved in something, I embrace it completely, and meditation was no exception. I became more aware of my true self, my life, and how I interacted with my surroundings. I kept describing to people how it felt like I was filling up, finally, this shell of a body. I felt like I mattered. I felt alive. Soon after, a woman, nearly a year younger than I, took notice. Being true to myself was not so bad after all.

In this heightened state of awareness, I felt transformed. I started looking at things differently. I started questioning things that I took for granted. Religion, philosophy, even tango. I’ve been dancing tango for more than five years. Why? It started as a social outlet, then I found out I really enjoyed it. I ended up dating three women I met through tango. What if I gave it up? I don’t identify myself as being a dancer, even though I’m pretty good at it. If I stopped dancing, I’m still me. Right? I don’t know; I haven’t stopped dancing yet.

I’ve read more books this year than I have in recent memory, and my stack of books I intend to read is even larger. I’m soaking up information in my lifelong quest to learn more about the world and myself. The latest book is “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, and this “spiritual teacher” is blowing my mind. He breaks down the walls of conventional, traditional and institutional thinking and gets to the heart of what IS. Who am I? No language has adequate words to describe who I am. Is that a cop-out? No. It means that however you may describe me, or however my mind may think of my own self, pales in comparison to who I am and who I am able to be. It is that part of me that is becoming more conscious.

And part of being conscious is being aware that I can get caught up in all this. Embracing, focusing on improving myself for the sake of self-improvement can rob me of the opportunities of enjoying life as it comes. It has also made me complacent, allowing me to think that I’ve evolved, that I’ve overcome trivial matters. Then suddenly the unexpected would happen, and I feel like I’m back at square one. And that’s when I look myself in the eye and face up to the fact that I’m making my life too complicated.

Life is a gift, and I need to be more present. The time is now.

First trimester is over. It’s past midnight, and I am no longer 30.

I am.