Your story is defined by the struggles you face and how you move past them. My biggest struggle often appears around my birthday. For those of you who don’t know me, I really hate my birthday, for many reasons. When I was younger, my birthday signaled the end of summer and the start of the school year. The sudden death of a grandfather marred my 18th birthday. Every subsequent birthday vividly reminds me of that phone call and then I spiral as I think about all of the other loved ones who aren’t with me. On top of that, every year after 21 is just aging. This birthday was no different. I was sad and frustrated and hurt. Then a few of things happened.
I’m 28. I am not 494. I don’t have all the time in the world, but I do have time. I spend a lot of time comparing myself to people in my age bracket around my birthday. “I’m not dating anyone, let alone married with kids.” “I like my job, but I don’t love it.” “I don’t travel as much as I want.” “I’m not as healthy as I should/could be.” “I still break out regularly.” Any of those sound familiar? In the days leading up to my birthday, all I heard was this voice whispering those things to me. That hateful voice would not leave me alone.
It wore on me until I began to cry. So, I mourned those who had left me. Then, I sobbed for the youth I lost, the friendships I no longer had, and the lonely girl I had become. I basically threw myself a pity party in my parents’ basement while I did laundry and waited for guests to arrive. I wrote in my journal about how crappy the week had been. I thought about how nothing I planned for myself worked out.
Suddenly, I realized that I am not the girl I was all those years ago. I miss my grandfather, especially around my birthday, but that’s not a bad thing. I know that missing him means that I am remembering him. I know that he would yell at me if he knew I was acting like this, as would all the other loved ones that I have lost. In fact, my great grandmother would probably slap me upside the head. They would want me to hold them in my heart as I become the person they would want me to be. Those plans I made? Yeah, they really aren’t feasible in this day and age. The loneliness? I spent the weekend surrounded by friends and family. Finally, the people I compared my life to? My journey diverged from their journey miles ago.
Let’s make a change.
A friend told me to become a dictator in my happiness and say “you know what…I’m just gonna be happy as all fuck today and nobody nor any situation is going to ruin that.” Truthfully, he shocked me with that piece of wisdom. Hence, I refused to be upset the rest of the afternoon. I forced a smile on my face until I was actually enjoying myself.
I choose happiness on my birthday. I’ll travel, celebrate, learn, and revel in my age. I accept that I haven’t achieved all of my goals. Don’t forget: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” From here on out, I will shut down that voice by any means. I achieved a lot of things in my short 28 years on this earth, and the struggle is a part of those achievements. Without those struggles, I would not be where I am today. I am a strong woman, who is still trying to figure it all out. Every day, I get a little bit closer. I will keep embracing my struggles. I will meet struggles head on so that I can tell my story.