It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to! Nah, I don’t really want to cry. Instead, I want to tell everyone and their mother. And technically it’s not really my birthday. Yet. I have declared my approach into the 4th decade of my life a National Month-Long Celebration (which it might become if the federal government shuts down).
Let me tell you a little about myself first though. I hate being the center of attention. I hate anything that calls attention to me. I know, how is this possible when I wear a sequined miniskirt and glittered booties in public as often as possible? And when the only overarching theme to this blog is Me, Me, Me, and Enough About Me, What Do You Think About Me? Let’s just say I’m a study in contrast. I get seriously anxious and uncomfortable when I’m in the spotlight. I hate running meetings, being the guest of honor, crossing a finish line at a race, or otherwise having a group of people look in my direction. (Such as the recent time the stiletto heel of my boot got stuck in the entrance way of an office building with automatic sliding doors, and the doors kept shutting on me as I kept furiously waving my arms to activate the sensor so the doors wouldn’t keep slamming on me, while simultaneously trying to take the boot off to escape the Doors of Death.)
So I’ve never been one of those people who likes celebrating birthdays. I don’t even post my birthday on Facebook. The attention makes me cringe. But I found myself so happy and excited to be turning 40 that for a short while, I considered throwing a party. Fortunately, I remembered how uncomfortable and difficult being socially appropriate is for me. Plan B….
I have decided to start celebrating my birthday 20 days before my birthday, and I have little celebrations scheduled out 20 days past my birthday. What kind of celebrations? Just nights out with different sets of friends–dinner, drinks, dancing, whatever. I have even decided lunches, coffee, staff meetings, handshakes, or any other personal interaction will qualify as a Birthday Celebration! And just to make things more festive, email and text conversations will count as well.
I don’t expect anything different–I don’t expect anyone to buy me dinner or drinks. No singing, no cake, no candles. I don’t even expect people to wish me a happy birthday. Just being with people I enjoy, doing things I like, is enough. I am just so happy and excited to turn 40. And I have so many good people I am so grateful for in my life. I want to share in my happiness and gratitude with people I care about.
I used to be really morbid and thought I’d die young–like I’d never see 38. I have no idea why, but I really believed that as a kid. So I never thought I’d become old, much less enjoy getting older. But my God, I LOVE turning 40. In my life I have experienced feelings and thoughts and events and experiences I never imagined even existed–I can’t wait to see what the next 40 years brings. Don’t get me wrong, it has not all been easy or joyful–there has been great sorrow and strife. But it’s been, overall, a fantastic and interesting ride so far.
True, there is something to be said about youth–apart from the physicality–there was an optimism and promise of Anything is Possible, before responsibilities and obligations create compromises and mortgages. There was an invincibility that bred foolishness, and cockiness that produced insecurity.
I’m well aware now of my mortality and my sense of self. For that, and for so much more, I am grateful. The years have developed a gratitude that feeds a joy and contentment that is different and separate from happiness. The decades have both taught me grace, and graced me with grace.
I am surrounded by the most thoughtful, gracious, positive, kind, and caring people. I am so fortunate to have people in my life who inspire me, teach me, support me, motivate me, and buy me drinks. I could not ask for more. My friend tells me I have a Sweet Life. I really do. Because the relationships I have built and nurtured through the years make up the fabric of my life. There have been times I’ve dropped a stitch or two, but they add texture to me.
What do I want for my birthday? I want to remember how lucky I am to be bathed in such good fortune, to be graced with so many amazing people in my life. I want to be enveloped in this quilt of my life. These people–no matter how fleeting their time in my life has been–they give me life, they have made me who I am, they sustain me. I carry a piece of each of them with me every day. I think it’s fitting then, that to celebrate my birth day, I celebrate the people who give me life.