As you may know, last Friday was my birthday. I had a stressful week at work (and several weeks leading up to it, honestly) and I was planning to take the day off work, sleep in, and do some shopping. Pat and my friends were gone for spring break, so it was just going to be me most of the day, but with living with Pat and two other roommates, I so rarely have the house (or my room) to myself, I was looking forward to it. Emily, my older sister, and I were going to have dinner. Simple. But perfect.
Then, leading up to my birthday, all week, people kept asking me what I was going to do for my birthday. (My own fault, really, for telling them it was my birthday.) First, coworkers. Then students.
And when I explained my plans (sleep in, shop a little, watch basketball) they all said, "Oh, but you have to do something fun!"
Everyone I talked to, it seemed my plans were not enough.
To have a good birthday, apparently, you have to have a big party. You have to go out and drink. You have to go skydiving or get a tattoo or do something worthy of telling your coworkers, something they can be impressed by.
And I began to believe it.
I've written before about how I'm really bad about comparing myself to others. I've also written about struggling to believe in the beauty of living simply -- of small joys, of quiet conversations, of reading books and enjoying time alone -- when the world glamorizes risk taking, breathless, the once-in-a-lifetime-movie-worthy-experiences.
(and even in that sentence, I have to challenge my thinking, because I've just implied my story isn't worth telling)
So I let myself get down on my plans. And I think I've fallen into this trap for a long time, especially with my birthday.
I began to think about the friends who were gone on spring break. I thought about the friends I've spent past birthdays with who, for whatever reason, are not in my life anymore.
I thought about the birthday parties I've gone to in the past for others and the birthday parties I've helped throw and (being super honest here, folks) wondered why I wasn't worth all the fanfare. Why, again and again, I end up alone on my birthday. I let myself feel not enough.
I threw myself a pity party. And I let myself be pathetic and feel pathetic.
On my birthday, I woke up at 10:15 ish. I laid in bed feeling sorry for myself. I answered a text from my mom by saying "Birthdays are stupid." I cried. I let my misery pool around me and I lied there in it.
I'm not sure what finally turned it around.
Around noon, I was tired of being miserable. I got dressed and went for a run in misty-almost-rain. I came home and had ice cream for lunch because I could.
I showered and went shopping. I bought a bunch of picture frames that I used later to hang some pictures from studying abroad. I went to the running store and bought some gear/supplies I'd been putting off buying.
And then I went to Emily's and she made me a FEAST and bought me ice cream and our Jayhawks won. It was delicious and fun and simple and perfect.
Once I stopped comparing my birthday to what I thought it should be (which was based on what everyone else thought it should be) I had a really good day.
And so, again and again, I'm learning to love what I love, regardless of anything else.
I'm learning that comparison is the thief of joy.
And slowly, every day, I'm learning that I am enough. I am worthy of love and support and I deserve to succeed. I work hard enough. I'm pretty enough. I'm strong enough. I am good enough.
I am enough.
Upon their return to Lawrence, my lovely friends Jenna and Sam, along with the wonderful bf Patrick, surprised me with a birthday dinner. I thought I was going to a poetry reading with Jenna and there the boys were.
This Saturday, I'm going to lunch with a friend from school.
It's not breathtaking. It's not shots in a crowded bar or tons of people all around me. It's nothing that would make the trailer of a movie, nothing to impress my coworkers.
But little moments -- homemade dinner with my sister, a surprise birthday celebration, hands held under the table and boys in button-up shirts, something to look forward to on a Saturday -- these are moments I'll remember, moments that build my relationships and build me up and make me feel valued and loved.
It's what I want, what I love. What else could I really ask for?
Hope you're all having a stellar Thursday. Happy almost weekend!