I turned 26 last week. 26! Old and young at the same time. It’s weird. But celebrating birthdays during the pandemic almost forces you to introspect more than usual, and y’all know I love me some introspectin’! (I know that’s not a word.)
I found myself having ups and downs about the past year, as well as being separated from my family on my birthday, which has only happened twice in my life. Twice! But there were other ways in which the birthday was a glorious blessing, and I’m about to jump into those.
Focus on closer friendships
Having to do smaller, socially-distanced celebrations made me look at the people in my life and reflect on the value they bring to it. I remember “round 1” of my birthday celebration, after my friends left, flopping onto the couch and thinking: “Wow, I like the people in my life.” Of course there were many who live in other countries, other continents, and I appreciated their calls and wishes just as much, but as a recovering people-pleaser, having people in my life whom I actually like, love, respect and admire, and for whom the feeling is mutual, is an achievement.
This birthday allowed me to acknowledge and celebrate the love with which I’m surrounded, and how important those relationships are to me.
Accept the Now (Introspectin’!)
It was great to be have some time to reflect on the turnaround of this particular year and see how I want to keep growing in the next. Yup, there’s a pandemic. Yup, auditions are few and far between. Yup, some people I know are going to be infected with the rona. Yup, it could also be me sometime. Yup, I’m not with my family. And that’s okay.
I learned so much more about myself in the past year, and I’m applying this same acceptance to what I’ve discovered. Yes, I still have work to do. Yes, I have a lot of things to unlearn, a lot of internalized isms to challenge and work through. But this, right here, knowing what I know and wanting to know more, is where I’m at. And it’s okay.
Celebrating Inner “Wins” More than External Ones
In the days leading up to my birthday, I found myself reflecting on what I’ve achieved since 25. I felt this sinking feeling: the year before I’d achieved a big milestone, what have I achieved this year? Skrrrrr! I had to stop myself mid-spiral.
It got me thinking how worthy I deem my achievements if they haven’t been both big and external, and how many ways I have grown and improved over the past year.
Of course it’s lovely to go on Instagram and say “Hey!! This year I did x project!! Yay me!!” (calling myself out here) but it’s just as valuable to look through your journal and see how differently you respond to things.
I speak my mind a lot more now, I stand up even to people I like, people who are close to me, because I value being truthful more than other people’s comfort (and it’s only made my connections better.) I’m so much clearer on what I want in a romantic relationship, a lot less scared of being hurt, a lot less resistant to accepting love into my life. I’m a lot better at drawing boundaries, asking for time or understanding, recognizing when something isn’t right for me, leaving situations that aren’t pushing me forward in life. I like my body a lot more and talk down on it less.
These are all incredible achievements that, yes, may not be so easily captured on social media, but are valuable to the betterment of my life, and definitely worthy of celebrating.
For anyone having birthdays post-March, basically, I hope you find the beauty in celebrating your life in the midst of chaos. You deserve to be happy on your day, you deserve to take the day to look at yourself, your life, your friends, and decide how you want to spend it going forward. And if you’re black, you deserve your joy in this time. Being joyful and celebrating that you’re here in spite of everything against you may be the specific kind of activism that works for you on some days. Bask in your black joy. Give that to yourself. 🎉
Happy Cancer szn, we gon’ get through this! 😅