This birthday feels a little different than the others. It feels like a death and a birth intertwined into one. The world recognizes me as an adult today, but in regards to time, my childhood has come to an end. One day this summer, I randomly remembered what I believe is my earliest memory. I was a baby, around 6 or 7 months old. I was swimming in a baby ring with my dad in the lake my parents got married at. In my pink bathing suit, I began to cry and scream because I was afraid of the enormous lake surrounding my tiny body. This moment and this fear stuck with me for most of my childhood, just like thousands of other memories have stuck inside my complicated head. I’ve always had a good memory, And today I couldn’t be more thankful for that. It’s a gift to be able to remember the moments and the people who have shaped me into the person I am, on my 18th birthday.
It’s wild to think that I’ve been living on this earth for 18 years. Although today feels no different than last week when I was 17, turning 18 feels like the beginning of the rest of my life, and in that sense, today feels big and scary and exciting. The year of 18 means choosing a college, moving out and living on my own (finally)! But it also means making big financial decisions and charting the path that will begin the adult chapter, which weighs heavy on my heart today. In so many ways, my 17th year on earth prepared me tremendously for the upcoming 18th year. On my birthday last year, I had lived in New York for only 3 days and everything was so new and big and nothing was figured out or planned. Turning 17 in New York City felt like having the whole world at my fingertips. That feeling was so exhilarating and that feeling is something that I haven’t stopped chasing ever since that day.
It makes complete sense why turning 18 feels like a “re-birth”. My 17th trip around the sun was a journey and a process to shed the parts of me that I didn’t need anymore. In this process, I gained the parts of me that I needed for adulthood. So today, it feels good to celebrate surviving the big and daunting year the world gifted me last year, at this time. We celebrate birthdays to celebrate the day we were born, when really, we should also be celebrating the person we’ve become since our last birthday. Let’s celebrate the good people who walked into our lives, the challenges we conquered, our self development, and the people who loved us and helped us grow throughout the year. In a sense, I think it’s an accomplishment to know that I’ve survived this big and scary world for 18 years. All the obstacles I’ve faced during all this time, and now it’s freeing to know that all of those challenges were there to prepare me for the life I have ahead.
Thursday night at work, my last night of being 17, a little girl came in with her mother. She had the same short haircut and the same little voice I had when I was younger. Everything she said and everything she did reminded me completely of my younger self. The way she talked to her mom about certain objects, the questions she asked, and her curiosity to pick up everything that sparked her eye. It was almost as if the younger version of myself had come back to visit me, to remind me that everything was going to be ok, that my childhood will always travel with me, and that she’s proud of the person she’s become. I think in that moment I knew it was ok to move on, to grow up, to turn over the next page. So now with excitement and assurance, I can say, This is 18.
18th Birthday 🙂