Is it really a happy birthday?

On my 15th birthday, my mom asked me what kind of party I wanted to have. And when I said I wanted a children’s party, that was exactly what I got. It was a sight to behold, high school girls still in their uniforms, taking part in parlor games and posing for photos with a purple potato mascot.

On my 18th birthday, my mom asked me again if I wanted a traditional debut. I declined. Gowns and dances were never my thing. Instead I asked for the celebration of my dreams—days checked into a hotel, alternating between my high school friends and college friends in memorable sleepovers.

On my 25th birthday, with a job of my own and a quarter life milestone to celebrate, I threw a private party in a club with another mixed group of friends. We got wasted, did dumb things like we did as teens, and all went home with a blurry but nonetheless indelible memory of better days.

Now, on the last year of my twenties, I contemplate whether the day is worth mourning… or celebrating.

I can’t really say I’ve lived a boisterous life. I’ve always liked things simple, liked being alone, liked doing things that most people might find to be boring but I myself found to be fun. I haven’t traveled as much as I wanted to, nor have I ever had an abundance of money to waste on the things I craved but didn’t need.

But I can say this: I’ve lived a happy life.

I have friends that I’ve known forever and will know for many more years to come. I have friends that put up with me, friends that like the same things I do, an unconventional group of people that I would never trade for anything or anyone. I have friends that really care, friends who understand, friends who will stick by me no matter how many mood swings I decide to have on a trying day. They’re a small bunch. And they’re also all I need.

I have a house—no, a home—with a loving, albeit a complicated family. We have our disagreements, but it gives me comfort to know I have a bed to come home to, food on the shelves, and a dog to welcome me with pure joy whenever I come home from work.

I have a job. I have an amazing boss, and even more amazing colleagues. I’ve found a happiness in my little cubicle that keeps me going on days I find myself doubting my place in the world. It’s continuously an uphill battle that I never stop fighting when it comes to career. But as things are right now, I consider myself lucky to be where I am.

I have stories. Some of them are still in my head, while some I’ve managed to put into writing and have shared with the world. Some, are still waiting in the back burners for someone to pick up and say, “This is worthy.” Some of them are still waiting to be written, stuck in my head and everyday whispering and asking to be set free. Someday, I will be able to write them all down. And they will be my greatest achievements.

I have memories—Good, bad, ugly, and uglier. They’ve made me who I am today. And as much as I would like to think that I regret some of them, I know I won’t be here if it wasn’t for how they built me up as a person. I know I wouldn’t see life the way I do if I didn’t allow myself to experience all of them. I know I wouldn’t have learned what love meant if it wasn’t for all the heartbreaks, I know I wouldn’t have learned happiness if it wasn’t for the tears, and I know I wouldn’t have been as good a person as I would like to think I am now, if not for the mistakes I made then.

I may be at a point in my life when society expects certain things from me. Like a spouse, children, my own house and a set retirement plan. I may not be fully set on any of those things, but I don’t let that stop me from still living the way I want to. The support of the people around me keeps me going everyday. My firm belief that no person should let social constructs dictate the way they should be allows me to not give a shit what people think I should’ve already achieved.

I’m still alive, happy. And that’s enough achievement for me.

Here’s to hoping I continue to celebrate life every single day I’m still privileged to live it. ♥

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