Thursday, November 3, 2016

My Existential Birthday Crisis

  So last week was my birthday. Now, I'm not claiming to know at which age one automatically starts dreading one's birthday, but I think I'm on the threshold. Even though I was only turning 20 (yeah, yeah, so young, whatever) there were some special circumstances that made this birthday tougher than the previous ones.
 Having two whole decades under your belt is a big deal. What have I done with these twenty years? I consider not dying or turning to hard drugs a pretty big accomplishment, but it provides a pretty discouraging point of comparison when other people your age go on five international service trips a year and are being inducted into their eighth honor society (maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point).
   It doesn't help that my main source of reassurance isn't around anymore, which brings me to my second special circumstance: it's my first birthday without my mom (if this is news to you, read about it in my last post). In a state of pre-birthday apprehension a couple weeks ago, I mentioned this in my grief group and learned I'm not the only motherless daughter who's wary of birthdays. To make a generalization, moms are usually pretty good at making a big deal of your birthday,knowing exactly what you want, and doing exactly what you need from them without you having to ask. Dads can struggle a little more with that stuff, my dad included. Therefore, if I want to have my birthday acknowledged as a big deal, I have to make it a big deal. I'm not so good at that either. My dad was thoughtful enough to come down and take me out to dinner and I got some touching care packages from my family (one of which included the funniest mental illness memoir ever, Furiously Happy and these badass socks pictured above). A surprising number of my friends also reached out to wish me a happy birthday, and thanks to all of these people, my special day was infinitely more bearable.

  I've really got to give myself a pat on the back for making it to age twenty in such good shape. I don't often give myself enough credit for making it through in one piece and accomplishing so many of my goals on top of it all.
  Here's some stuff I've done with my twenty years that I should be proud of:
      -Graduated high school on time and made it to college. No easy feat for someone like me who considered dropping out of high school. In college, I've found meaningful work and a working style that motivate me to get out of bed each day and go for it.
     -Earned a place on Dean's List even through the toughest semesters of my life.  Again, I've really been able to apply my intelligence these past couple years even when battling my grief and depression.
    -Established my values and interests. I learned a lot about myself as a human through my most difficult years. I learned what I need and what I consider important. Those oddly specific obsessions I had in sixth grade to cope with it all? You can bet I'm still passionately pursuing them.

  Here's some stuff I hope to accomplish while I'm twenty:
     -Finally get my driver's license. One of my biggest insecurities is not having my driver's license yet. I know I really need to focus, dedicate, and take the bull (read: anxiety) by the horns and just get 'er done. I'm planning on using my winter break to sharpen my skills and pass the test once and for all.
   -Get accepted to study abroad: Although I love to travel and spend time abroad, the whole study abroad application process has inspired a lot of self-doubt and chaos. Underneath all these trivial complications, I know it would be an amazing opportunity that I would really learn from so I'm going to finish the application and give it a shot.
  -Get two more tattoos: It wouldn't be a fun list without at least one rewarding goal. Tattoos are something I genuinely enjoy designing and getting and they make me more comfortable in my own body. I would definitely commit to more than two for the upcoming year if I wasn't trying to be more money conscious.

  On an unrelated-to-birthdays side note, I've recently made a Pinterest which you can check out here. It's a great way to stay updated, interact, and find out what else I'm interested in! How do you feel about your birthdays? What are your goals this year? Let me know!


  1. Sounds like you have accomplished a fair bit by 20 so you shouldn't beat yourself up! It must be hard having your first birthday without your mum, the first of everything without someone is always difficult <3
    Amy xx

    1. Thanks for your kind words! Always a good idea to give yourself a pat on the back xx