Four weeks ago, I turned 20 years old. I didn’t think much of it then, and I don’t think much of it now.
I don’t find birthdays too exciting anymore. When you’re little, birthdays are a big deal because you get presents, cake and all of this attention. Everything is about you, and it’s great. Your birthday is a day that celebrates you; it celebrates your existence. Your birthday is a day that celebrates how far you’ve come so far in life and how far you can still go.
Somewhere along the way in my 20 years of existence, I lost the excitement for that. That’s not to say I don’t like birthdays anymore, but, to quote Jamie Tworkowski in his oh-so-wonderful book If You Feel Too Much, “i like birthdays. i like them more for other people, but I’m glad we celebrate them.”
I don’t care too much about celebrating my own birthday, but I do like other people’s birthdays. I like celebrating other people more than I like celebrating myself, and Jamie’s words describe my feelings very well.
At the heart of it is the opportunity to tell someone “i’m glad that you were born,” which is also to say “i’m glad that you’re alive.” Those are powerful statements. The world would be a different place if we lived that way, if we said and expressed these things, more than once a year.
Maybe that’s why I don’t find birthdays exciting for myself anymore. Because there’s one day where people celebrate you, but it very well may be limited to just that one day. Because some people very well may just feel obligated to celebrate you and not be genuine about it.
It’s not that having a special day all about you is bad, though. It’s just that people should be continuously celebrated and in a genuine way. People shouldn’t just feel special on one day of the year throughout the time of their lives on the day they expect it. And I’m guilty of that, too, just like everyone else. But I’ve been trying to change that in the past years, and I’m still working on it. I’m working on it in terms of others and in terms of myself.
I think that’s why it’s easier to find excitement in birthdays when you’re young. When you’re young, life is still very much so new, and things seem simple. Birthdays are a day to celebrate, so that’s what you do, and there’s nothing more to it. You don’t realize that celebrating others should be commonplace, a thing that happens more than once a year for each person.
So I’m trying to appreciate myself more, what I offer the world, because it doesn’t matter too much if others can appreciate you if you can’t appreciate yourself, because you are the most important person in your own life. You need to see the value in yourself in order to realize why others may see that in you.
So now, I’m trying to appreciate my life so far and all I’ve accomplished.
I’m no longer a teenager anymore, and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. Obviously, it makes me feel like I’m getting old knowing that I’m not a teenager, but, to be honest, I haven’t felt like much of a teenager in recent years—not a typical one anyway.
My life has always revolved around school, and then it revolved around school and work once I got into sports writing at the end of my junior year of high school. I didn’t go out with friends much and hang out at sporting events. I never went to dances in high school simply because I never really wanted to.
Sometimes I think it has to do with the fact I’m an introvert. Sometimes I think it has to do with how I was raised. Sometimes I think it’s a combination of the two. Regardless of why I decided to go about my teenage years the way I did, it’s gotten me to where I am today, a good place.
My life still revolves around school and work, and it does so more now than ever before, but I’m fine with that. I continue to do well in school and have also managed to handle my journalistic jobs well. I never would have thought that, four years ago before I even got into sports journalism, I would have accomplished as much as I have. And sure, I still question my abilities at times, but I’m still going and enjoying my opportunities. I’m working toward my dreams and have no regrets about how I’m living my life. Everybody doesn’t always get to have those opportunities, and, if they do, sometimes they’re unfairly taken away, so I’m trying to cherish that.
And I do feel older—not simply because I have this bigger number that represents the length of my life—but because it actually feels like I’m making progress with what I want my life to be. That’s something to be proud of.
So maybe I don’t think much of birthdays anymore, and maybe I don’t care about my birthday much anymore—that is besides having a legitimate excuse to buy cake. But I am getting older, and I’m starting to appreciate and love myself and my own life more. I’m starting to realize how much life I’ve lived, but also how much life I have left to live.
Overtime: Happy 21st birthday to my friend and fellow basketball/LeBron fan, Leslie! I’m glad you like your present!
— ⚓️⭐️ (@leslie_taylor7) November 5, 2015
Also, happy early birthday to my friend Carly, who turns 21 on November 6. I’m grateful that you’ve become a close friend, that I had you as someone to read my gymnastics beat coverage last season, and that we’ve been able to bond over our interest in To Write Love on Her Arms and about how Jamie Tworkowski is an awesome person.
“A happy birthday is measured not in the amount of gifts one gets, but in the amount one is loved.” ― Todd Stocker