Last Saturday, I turned 31. It’s not a huge milestone, other than that I’m officially in my thirties. Even saying that seems odd to me, and I wonder where time has gone.
The man surprised me by inviting a few friends out for a surprise dinner. Two of the friends were two of the dearest I have from college. As we ate bruschetta and had drinks, the story telling began. By the end of the night, the thing that shocked me most was that more than a decade has past since I entered college.
Last week at work we started interviewing candidates for a graduate program. As I listened to all the young twenty somethings talking about their dreams, desires, and the goals they’ve had since they were children, I began thinking of my own. I wondered where they had gone. Somewhere, way back when, I had wanted to be an English teacher like my mother had been. And somehow, I’m not even close to that dream.
I became depressed that night, and it stayed with me for nearly a week. Thinking about goals that have been pushed aside in favor of real life is never comforting. I can imagine where changes in my life could have taken me had I not lost my father, or had I applied to different colleges, or had I moved home after graduation.
I dreaded my birthday this year, for the first time in a long time. I’m used to my birthday being shoved aside because it is so close to Christmas, but I’ve never truly dreaded it the way I did this year. There was a pit in my stomach as the day approached. There would be no party hats and birthday cake or singing.
But somehow it all turned out to be amazing. The dinner with friends. A weekend with my mom and aunt. My coworkers surprising me by decorating my office and even baking me a black forest cake – my dads specialty.
And somehow, suddenly, 31 wasn’t so terrifying anymore. I may not have the perfect car, or the perfect job, or the perfect wardrobe.
But I do have a lot of things. Married with a house and two cats. A job that pays the bills (most months). Dreams that are waiting to be fulfilled, not dead. That is enough.
Happy Birthday to me.