As my dear readers know, I had a birthday this week. Normally I love my birthday because it’s an excuse to eat cookie cake without people passing judgment on me (or at least if they do, they keep it to themselves).
When I was a kid I anxiously counted down the weeks until my dig day, knowing I would finally be a year older and closer to being an adult.
When the day finally arrived, my parents would wake me up singing “Happy Birthday.” I always pretended to hate it, but secretly I loved the attention, even if my dad was off-key.
In the years leading up to my 20s, I continued to look forward to my birthday.
The 21 birthday is a coveted one because it means you can throw away the fake ID, or at least give it to another deserving soul.
The 25th birthday marked what I believe to be the age when people would start taking me seriously.
I began thinking of those final days as the last moments I would be young and I cringed with each passing day as my birthday drew near.
This year I realized that’s not the way I want to live my life. I turned 34 this year. Yes, 34. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m in my mid-thirties and am no longer the young woman I used to be, and I’m okay with it.
Yes, I’m starting to see sun spots on my face and my chest is starting to show signs of years sunbathing with baby oil. My feet are starting to ache when I stand too long and my stomach is far more sensitive than it used to be.
I know all of this, and yet I’m not sad. I”m happy about it.
Why? Because those sun spots on my face and chest are from vacations with my loved ones and afternoons at the pool with friends.
My aching feet are from years of exploring the world, hiking a mountain, walking across The Brooklyn Bridge and running a 5k.
My sensitive stomach is from years of drinking beer at the bar and eating at five-star restaurants in Beverly Hills (all the while wondering if we were going to be kicked out for being “commoners”).
My sciatica acts up when I sit on bleachers because of all the years of basketball games, World Series games, tailgating and college bowl games.
Yes, my body may be more achy than I’d like for it to be. Yes, my skin may not be as resilient as it once was.
But my soul? My soul is enriched more each year because of the life experiences I’ve had.
I’m not the person I was when I was 25 and for that I’m grateful. I don’t want to be that person. It’s not that she was a bad woman; I liked her when I was 25.
But now, I’m the new and improved model. I may have signs of wear and tear, but I think I’m better than ever.
Rather, I’m talking about celebrating the 33 years I’ve been on this planet, creating memories and enjoying those people I love.
I’m going to look back over my years and take note of my accomplishments and my failures, because both have made me who I am.
I will also look forward to getting older instead of dreading it. I will embrace each coming year, knowing I’m a better person each year because of the life I’m living.
I will thank the well-wishers and remind myself that my birthday truly is a happy time. It’s a time to celebrate life and making it through this crazy world one more year.
I will definitely drink to that (and then wash it down with cake).
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