It’s hard to believe it, but Thanksgiving is already over. I’m writing this at 9 pm on Thursday night, but you probably won’t see this until I’ve already been at work for several hours. And that’s because it’s Black Friday.
And not just any Black Friday, but my last Black Friday in retail.
Oh, and it’s also my 26th birthday.
I have always hated birthdays. No, let me take that back: I have hated birthdays since I turned 20. And, barring low-key dinners with my family, I haven’t actually celebrated since that time I sang karaoke with drag queens and my dorm-family during my freshman year of college.*
Birthdays are especially hard when you’ve been schlepping around the kind of baggage that I’ve accumulated since meeting ED. They’re hard, because they’re reminders of the fact that I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve wasted so many years stewing in my own narcissism instead of doing something special with my life.
Or at least that’s how I’ve looked at it, until now.
I’m standing on the precipice of a huge change–A new job, a new city, a new relationship. I’m on my way out of my twenties, the supposed “best years of my life.”
I’m realizing, however, that the years that got me to this place were not wasted. Not in the least. While I may have squandered opportunities and put myself into situations that lent themselves to hardship and struggle, I have the opportunity to finally learn from those experiences and become stronger.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. Even depression. Even injury. Even ED.
And I believe that the fact that I’ve somehow made it to California, away from the life that I once knew, lightyears outside of my comfort zone, and nowhere near where I envisioned myself when I was in high school, happened for a reason.
And I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for every hardship. I’m thankful for the tears I’ve shed. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made and lost, for the money I earned and spent, for the stress and the pain and the bright days and the rewards. I’m even thankful for the 7 am shift on Black Friday. Because it makes me appreciate the time I had to relax and spend with my boyfriend and his amazing family today, makes me appreciate all of the Black Fridays I won’t have to work now that I will be moving on to a new job and a new career.
I’m not perfect. I will never be. But I’m barreling toward 30 at full speed ahead, and I’m going to make damned sure that by the time I get there, I have squeezed every last opportunity and experience out of these next four years. And I guarantee those years will be full of gratitude, because I have–and will have–so much to be thankful for.
So…happy birthday to me. And if you’re at the mall, stop by and say hello. I’ll be the girl lost in the middle of the crowd, smiling through the madness.
*You heard right: I didn’t even celebrate my 21st birthday, although my incredible friends Matt & Graham kidnapped me and drove me around South Florida for a couple of hours…They also made a birthday scavenger hunt that led me from my garage to a mailbox down the street, where they had tied a birthday balloon. I was lucky to have such amazing people in my life.