*This post is dedicated to my weekday Starbucks barista. She knows why.*
I love birthdays. LOVE them. In a few short days I’ll be turning the corner on another year alive and this positively thrills me. Growing up I would anxiously await my birthday, hoping no one forgot it (it’s happened more times than I care to admit) and maybe something good would happen to me and at least one part of life wouldn’t be disappointing. Alas, year after year I was disappointed and my hope broken. It wasn’t intentional, it was simply life at that time in our family. And each year I’d pick up my broken hope and tuck it away until the next birthday. Then things in and around me changed.
I grew up. Relationships changed. Where I lived changed. What I did changed. How I viewed the world changed. I stopped cutting and burning myself. I returned to my faith. I left an abusive relationship. I forgave those who’d done incredible wrongs to me. I started working to forgive myself. I began taking opportunities that scared me, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and all those other cliches we tend to roll our eyes at. And my perspective shifted. Life became fun and more scary and comforting and unnerving. Life opened up and I saw every dream I’d dared to dream move closer to reality. I used to dream and wish and hope to be a published writer, so one day I took a chance and submitted a piece to a website I was confident would turn me down. And they didn’t, they took me on and I wrote for them for two and a half years. And that time was exhilarating. I traveled around the country. I went to conferences as a credentialed member of the media. I broke a couple stories. I met some of the most compelling people in the country. I lived. And it felt good to live. It feels good to live.
One of my favorite people in the world told me shortly after we met how much she hated her birthday. HATED it. She’s been known to cry and hide from the world when her day comes around. I was crushed for her. Life is worth celebrating. Making it through 365 days of challenges and victories, heartache and love, fears and conquered mountains, failure and success is deserving of some kind of positive acknowledgement. To be alive and have a chance to make life better is a gift. This year I pushed her to celebrate for an entire month. Everyday I texted her a reminder to celebrate and love herself and be proud of her accomplishments. Everyday was a chance to celebrate how much better the world is because she’s in it- my world is better because she’s in it. She hardworking, driven, compassionate, caring, giving, loving, loyal, and considerate and she needed reminded of that. And for an entire month she celebrated how amazing she is.
So now I actively celebrate my birthday every year. I buy a pretty dress to wear no matter what my plans are for the day. I proudly declare my actual age (32, almost 33). I thank God for another chance to change, grow, love, become, live. I’m not proud to admit it, but it took two drug overdoses and someone trying to kill me to wake up to how amazing life is. And life is AMAZING. Life is a grand adventure waiting to be taken. Life is a spectacularly grand adventure waiting in anticipation for each of us to grab its hand and run, headlong into the unknown.