We sat around the table last night, me and some of my dearest friends. Sarah had made my favorite dish growing up and we were content to just eat and talk and laugh.
This is my life. I am ridiculously lucky.
You see, that dinner was my birthday dinner. And while we were celebrating another year of life, the dinner wasn’t too far from the normal blissful camaraderie we enjoy in my little brick house on a daily basis. While many people think of birthdays as a day of presents, for me the question of presents is almost confusing. The point of a birthday is not to get shiny new toys, it’s to celebrate the most important part of your life: the people that contribute to who you are. And the greatest birthday present someone can give you is the gift of their time and attention.
One of my favorite birthday traditions that we have as roommates is that everyone asks for words of wisdom from the person who is now one year older and wiser. Yesterday as Sarah asked me for the biggest things I had learned in the last year, I had to take a second to pause. You see, I always expected to have my life figured out before now. In fact, I think that’s part of the reason I’ve felt so much stress over the last year, because I felt like I had to make all of my life decisions before I turned 25.This year has been a painful process of learning that life is never figured out. There are always questions and worries that exist, and rather than allowing myself to be bogged down by these, I have to accept that they exist and do my best to make the wisest decision I can with the best timing I feel is appropriate. It’s not a numerical equation that has one possible solution. It is messy and conditional on the decisions I make.
Learning to let go while still moving forward is much easier said than done. At least for me, maybe it’s easier for some of the rest of you. But, more than anything I learned to not compare where I am on my perceived timeline of progression to others. There are experiences that others have had that I have not. And there are experiences that I have had, that they have not. These are based on the decisions we have made, and they make us the people that we are. But ultimately, no one person can be everywhere and do everything. We are constantly making decisions about how we will use our time and money and love and energy. That’s not something to be frustrated about. It is just reality. Our time and skills and emotions are valuable commodities that are not always best spent in front of a computer screen.
The truth is, sometimes we won’t make the best decisions, because, you know, we’re human beings. I have bad habits, and weaknesses. But that doesn’t mean that I have no worth. I am a package deal. If I am going to recognize those weakness, I must also recognize the strengths that coexist within myself. I am a whole human being, and that is what makes me interesting and beautiful. This year I learned that I have to accept the whole package of myself; not just my many successes and not just my many failures, but the summation of 25 years of living. Living a life that has been more of a blessing than anything else. I’m so grateful for the patient people that have loved me at my lowest, and a loving God who felt I was worthy of not only his love and forgiveness, but also amazing opportunities and experiences.