Halloween has always been a signal to me that my birthday is right around the corner. For the second year in a row, I am not excited about my birthday. Last year, I was in law school and super stressed out. My birthday was in the middle of the week, I had a midterm that day and you know who had just been elected president. I was bummed out and everyone I was with was bummed out too. I was far from home and didn’t have anyone to celebrate with. Turning 22 was probably the most boring and uneventful birthday yet but my year that followed was probably one of the best yet.
I am not sure how to feel about 23. I will be celebrating 23 with two of my favorite people so ringing in 23 will definitely be better than 22. But why I am I comparing? I am so grateful for this past year of my life. I lived out my dream, I grew up, I followed my new dream, I learned a lot. And yet I can’t help shake this feeling like something is missing. This year will be the first year since I was very little that I have not been in school while celebrating my birthday. Is that it? Or is it because I don’t have a boyfriend? But I can count back all my birthdays and I never had a boyfriend on any of them, except one. So, it can’t be that.
I think I miss the sense of community a birthday has brought before. As a kid, I would have big birthday parties and be surrounded my whole family. In high school, I had my friends and my family. In college, I was surrounded by my best friends. Even last year, I was still surrounded by a ton of people. But that can’t be it because even if this birthday I am not physically surrounded by a ton of people, I still have a community of people who love me.
You know what it really is, I want someone to give me a medal. This past year has been so hard. I sometimes forget what it has taken to get through it because at the end of the year I have been left with good things as compared to a lot of pain. But I know no one is going to give me a medal for making it through this year.
Only I can give myself a medal because nobody else knows what I have been through. We walk through life wanting recognition and approval of things we have done when no one really knows what it has taken us to get there. So, even if people give us a medal I am not sure they really know what it has taken for us to earn it. I may momentarily feel better if someone else acknowledges what I have been through. But if I acknowledge what I have been through and give myself a medal that feeling of strength and worthiness is going to last a hell of a lot longer.
There is only one person in this world whose approval and recognition you need and it is you. So, whatever it is you feel like you have been waiting to be recognizing for, give yourself a medal because you did it and you earn it. It does not matter who else gives you a medal for things you have done if you cannot give one to yourself. You have to be able to recognize your own awesomeness.
I give myself a medal for the past year and all the hard years for before that. I am more excited about my birthday now. As I should be, it took a lot to get here.