Last Monday was my half birthday. As far as I can remember, I never celebrated a half birthday growing up, but now that we are in the midst of a pandemic, I find myself grasping at straws for things to celebrate and reasons to curl my hair.
It’s crazy to think that I’m less than six months away from being thirty years old. I really don’t know how it happened. Maybe because I look younger than I am or because I have a brother that is 10 years younger than me, but it feels like 30 snuck up on me fast. I remember my 25th birthday at my previous job; it was my first birthday there and my co-workers bought me a pink glitter cake. That feels like yesterday.
My birthday this year had an air of heaviness to it. I remember sitting at the bar on a Valentine’s Day date (lol – very fancy), drinking a well gin and tonic, and talking about how weird it felt to be starting my life over at almost 30. If you would have told me that night that 29 would be the age I discovered a happiness I never knew possible, I would have probably fallen off my bar stool from laughing so hard.
When I was growing up, my dad always told me that I control my own happiness. Me. That’s it. Nobody else. Over the past six months, I’ve realized just how true that is.
I am so happy. I feel it in my heart, and I see it in photos of myself. The twinkle in my eyes is back. I never knew that you look so happy would become my favorite compliment. I’m awful at taking compliments, but this one never fails to make me beam with pride.
While part of it has come from genuinely learning to love myself and embrace each experience as it happens, I’ve also come to really believe that you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. There’s such a difference in surface level friendship and true friendship, like the friend who picks you, your roommate, and her 70-pound goldendoodle up when a tornado knocks your power out and destroys your neighborhood… then lets the three of you live with her for a week.
My faith has also been strengthened so immensely. A friend invited me to church with her my first week here, and I’ve never looked back. As someone who made the conscious decision to stop going to church at 15 after feeling so hurt and let down by the church both my mom and I were raised in, I genuinely did not believe this would ever happen. Yet here I am, planning my schedule around classes and digging deep. I am so grateful.
I’ve discovered the joy of work/life balance. It is amazing. I never want to give it up. This has been another big step for me as someone who is an Enneagram three and also loves to work. Some nights, I just lay on the couch and watch Bachelor in Paradise reruns with no nagging guilt or shame… and it is glorious.
On a literally lighter note, I’m blonde now. It was a bit of a happy accident that happened the day before the world shut down, but it’s here to stay. Not only does it feel appropriate for how much lighter my life has been, but it feels good to be confident enough to experiment with my look so drastically.
Most importantly, I’ve embraced that the life I imagined for myself as a young girl may look very different from my reality. And that is okay. I don’t dream of a storybook wedding; I dream of owning my own house. I realistically may age out of being able to have biological children, but oh my goodness, I am “Aunt Dana” to the most wonderful, ever-growing group of kiddos.
So if you need me, I’ll be right here at my laptop researching how many units of Botox I need to fix my crows feet and how my retirement plan is doing. The best is yet to come.