I’ve had some traumatic birthdays in the past — that’s for sure. (Okay, maybe just the one.) Trauma aside, let me admit something.
I didn’t feel really excited about my birthday this year.
I guess I just wasn’t really feeling anything about my birthday this year. It was just a day that was going to happen. I didn’t feel like 28 merited any sort of special recognition. I’m just older than I was, and that’s that.
Also, you know, 28 seemed a teensy bit scary.
Once I’m 28, I’m looking at 30, and it’s looking right back at me. Like really close to me. Like all in my personal space.
As the day approached, I started to get bogged down with of all the things I should have done by 28…. written a book, traveled to Greece, bought a new car. I started thinking about how as you get older you just shrug off your birthday because you no longer partake in superhero or Ninja Turtle or Barbie parties.
You no longer ride around with your friends in high school blasting Blink182 and The Starting Line and have everyone sing happy birthday to you.
After you leave college, there are no giant raging parties (for me at least) where you only sort of remember what happened but you’re pretty sure you had 4 too many Lemon Drop shots.
You just kind of wake up, you’re older, you go to work, and then you go to sleep that night and then that’s it.
You’ve had a birthday.
Honestly, I have no qualms with this setup. In fact, I do believe that I picture my birthday this way because it’s what I like. I’m not a social butterfly at all. I definitely prefer to stay in my cocoon.
In retrospect, it appears I did feel something about 28. I felt apprehensive. I’m closer to 30, I’m not published, I haven’t traveled that much, I haven’t found a way to eat a whole large pizza without gaining weight….
But then, the boyfriend proposed to me and became the fiancee. So I turned 28 as an engaged lady.
But then, to celebrate my birthday, I had dinner at the mom’s house with the siblings and the fiancee and the brother’s roommate and the nephews where I laughed the entire time.
But then, on my actual birthday, the fiancee made me breakfast and coffee and told me happy birthday every 5 minutes and sent cake emoticons through our chat while we were at work.
But then, the boss brought me 6 of my most favorite cupcakes in the world and placed them on my desk.
But then, I got to eat the best Chinese food on the planet.
But then, all the people I love and miss (even though I’m flaky, and even though I’m bad at maintaining friendships) sent me messages wishing me a happy birthday.
It’s not your birthday that’s the big deal! It’s not turning 21 or 28 or 30 or whatever number comes next.
It’s the people that make the day so special. It’s the people that love you and make you laugh and make you feel special, even if you aren’t a well-renowned author and even if you haven’t gone back to Spain yet. It’s the people. Your people.
True, your people aren’t just your people on your birthday. But your people will make your birthday a birthday worth having.
I had forgotten this, somehow, in the past year. But 28 reminded me.
So, you’re 28. (Or 30 or 15 or 45.) Don’t feel apprehensive or apathetic or bothered.
Don’t think about the parties of yesteryear or how quickly time goes by.
Take a look around at the company you’re keeping. If you don’t immediately feel compelled to write cheesy blog posts expressing how incredible the people in your life are, then you need to switch it up.
28. I’ve got my people. I’m ready for you.