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.

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