Every year when we have a birthday, deep down (in some remote, Godforsaken place we don't want to admit exists) we hope THIS BIRTHDAY WILL BE DIFFERENT. Sort of like every New Year when we make universe-bending resolutions that will statistically be impossible to keep. At every birthday someone will inevitably (jokingly) ask, "Do you feel any different?" and you'll chuckle awkwardly, averting your eyes and mumble, "Not really" while secretly wishing you did. We all want to experience some earth-shattering change, some tangible evidence that a year of life has passed and you are now a better, more intelligent and mature person because of it. But alas, there is no spark. No electrifying feeling when you wake up. No visible change when you face yourself in the mirror. Just the same-old, same-old you. As if nothing of any significance has happened.
Today I turned 21, a big monumental age by society's standards. I wish I could report that I feel different, but I don't. Maybe I will feel different, a slight surge of glee, the next time I go to a concert and walk out triumphantly, sans X's. Maybe I would feel differently if I cared even the slightest bit about "drinking", but seeing as I don't, I get to revel in my same old, same old "me-ness" even more ;-)
Which isn't a bad thing. Right? I guess it's hard to feel that way when we live in a world that praises the "new and improved." But when I take a step back and examine my situation (simply being an insignificant 21 year old on her birthday) through a no-expectations lens, I am surprised to realize: I am totally content.
A few days ago I would not have said the same. Being a January baby, with a birthday that nips on the tail end of Christmas and the New Year, I always find myself in a flurry of holiday festivities that tornado into my birthday and chaotically combust. It's like watching a Big Band in fast-forward, then having a party-horn blown in your face with a burst of confetti like, "TA-DA! It's Christma-New YerrrrrBirthday!!! Okbyenow." Flop. And just like that it's over.
But hey, having a birthday so close to Christmas has it's perks. While the rest of the world is unsuccessfully trying to come off the holiday high, I still have something to look forward to ;-) BOO-YAH.
The New Year was in full swing, my dad and little brother were in town visiting, and everyone kept asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday—a seemingly harmless and understandable question, as I had made no publicly announced plans up to that point. Mostly because, by nature, I feel uncomfortable making a big deal about myself. It feels weird being the center of attention for no other reason than I "was born." But seriously, think about it: HOW WEIRD IS THAT?!
But this was, after all, my 21st BIRTHDAY (I feel like there should be some dramatic DUN-DUN-DUN music accompanying that). People make a big deal out of this. It's almost on the same level of your "high school years"...one of those memories people warn you (with a waggly finger) not to look back on and regret because these are the "best years of your life!" (which on a totally unrelated note, is completely insane/ridiculous/rubbish, because I will always hope the best years are ahead of me, no matter what age I am)
So naturally, I was stressed! This was my epic 21st birthday and I didn't have anything planned to even remotely rival the extravagance of some punk teenager on "My Super Sweet 16." WHAT HAS MY LIFE COME TO?!?!
Kidding. But we all get caught up in that stuff sometimes. No one is completely immune. I'm just thankful I came to my senses and realized this is just another birthday like any other, and trying to enjoy it the way the I'm expected to enjoy it will ultimately suck all the joy out of it.
Now that I have that weight lifted off my shoulders, I am happy to report no more stress, no need for flashy lights or a wedding-invite sized guest list, and my happiness back in my control (as preachy-inspiring as that sounds).
Take a step back, and remember to look at your life through your own eyes :-)