I never know how to start posts. I'm trying really hard to figure out what the best way to hook, line, sinker people into this post is, but I honestly suck at this part. So this is my clever intro. It is a) the reason I would have made an abysmal journalist b) all you're going to get, so here you go.
Now lets talk about feels, and friends, and stuff.
Today I'm a year older (nineteen -- still a baby, my god it's nice to be young), and while I try not to attach sentiment to holidays, occasions, and birthdays in particular, I'm the type of person who attaches sentiment to socks. In other words, this pursuit has been pretty futile for me.
I'm a real hater of birthdays. After living through the storm of feeling like I was falling short of expectations, I came out stronger, but with a strong fear of raising expectations. If you step into any particular day hoping it will be any more significant or gratifying than every other day, you're bound to be disappointed.
So I take a no expectations attached approach to birthdays: I don't tell people it's my birthday, I don't make plans to do anything, I don't celebrate, I just go through it like any other Monday. Although I do believe that calories don't count on birthdays, and that's celebration enough for me.
But at the end of another year of my life, I do like to think about what I've learned. This is actually more of just an "any old Tuesday" thing for me, but a birthday seems like the appropriate time to do it, right? Right.
So you all get to sit with me through my birthday musings of the year. I'll enumerate them for the sake of not letting this post become a novel, but with another year of wisdom (eh, maybe), these are the things I learned about myself, my life, and my world this time around.
By the way, I promise to talk just as much next year and work on the intro thing.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening.
1. The people you love are everything.
At nineteen I'm still as inclined to just sit in a room alone and write poems/listen to music as I was at seventeen and eighteen, but at nineteen I'm also more grateful for and more aware of the love that fills that room even when I'm the only one in it. In fact, originally this post was just going to be a giant shout-out fest to the people I love. I'm not going to do that because everyone should have control over their presence on the internet, and even without referencing their names, I don't want to write about things that are occurring between me and others without their permission (a lesson I learned this year! Keep reading for more on this). But the point is, you are nothing without love. Love for yourself, love for others, and love from others. About two weeks ago I experienced an incredibly trying week of depression, and it was the palpable kindness and love of a dear friend, Nathaniel, and my family that got me through it. Gone are the days of sitting alone and letting the bridges between me and the rest of the world burn in front of my eyes. At nineteen I hope to remind everyone I love how much I love them everyday, and never take their love for granted. They are the foundation I will build my successes and future on. So, if you're reading this, you know who you are. There are a lot of you, more than I sometimes remember, and I hope you know I love you. Thank you for getting me through another year that I once wasn't sure I was going to be around to live.
2. Living life can't come at the expense of documenting life.
I'm a documenter. I take photos of everything and then come home and blog or write about it. I mean... I can't make it through a meal without writing about it. For me, this is driven by a desire to never forget things. Feelings, tastes, jokes, even pain. I hold onto all things with fervor out of fear of losing my sense of living, and one day only being able to wake up with the memory of what living once felt like. The problem is, remembering can come at the expense of living at all. I can't guarantee I'll be here in a year -- none of us can -- but I can guarantee that when I call my mother tonight and remind her how much I miss and love her, I listen to everything she says and really take in how much she means it when she says she loves me right now. I can put my phone down and hug one of my dearest friends as tightly as I can, just feeling that gratitude instead of trying to find the words to express that gratitude so that I can remember it twenty years from now. Remembering what youth is like is wonderful, but getting older means letting go of the feelings of your youth and replacing them with more feelings. I once heard that the heart is not a box that fills, but rather one the expands. Let your heart and your memory box never be full and always expand.
3. Knowledge rocks. Pursue it.
Read books, talk to people who aren't like you, talk to yourself about yourself. Learn new skills, refresh old skills, go to talks you're not interested in, learn everything you can about what you're interested in. No matter how old you are or where you think you are on your track in life, you'll never be able to continue on it and you'll certainly never be able to get off of it if you don't have the knowledge to fuel your journey. I'm in the constant pursuit of learning about myself and learning how to take in from others what I myself could never create. I'm in the process of building myself up with bits and pieces of wisdom and wit from strangers and loved ones alike. If you never stop learning then you never have to stop moving. I'm in the pursuit of moving... hopefully always forwards.
4. You're going to be okay.
Yes, you. You, the person who can't imagine what dragging yourself out of bed tomorrow will feel like, and you who can't feel anything at all. You are going to be okay. Everyone is struggling down this road together, and none of us are always alright. Happiness and material comfort are not signs of contentedness, neither are sadness or isolation signs of dissatisfaction. You don't know what other people are feeling, and you probably don't know what you're feeling, but you're going to be okay.
I'm nineteen today, and above everything else I am still okay. I am still fighting this fight, and I still have something worth fighting for. I am not happy, I am probably not even close, but I am so much better than that. Happiness has fluttered in and out of my life in no particular pattern, and a lot of darkness has been here for a long time, but at the end of this year I am on some wrung of the ladder of my life with the capacity to continue moving upwards. I may not be climbing, and other times I may be climbing quickly, but I am still here. I'm here and no matter how many times I slip and stop, I'm going to be okay.
Happy birthday to me.