Exactly one week ago, I officially turned twenty years old. Usually I don't think much about ages as they pass--frankly, most times I even forget my age--but this one felt special. Twenty years old. Two decades. No more blaming things on being a teenager. I was for real. And I was in Australia.
I woke up the morning of my birthday at 6:30 am because my back was sore (no joke, it actually thinks I'm an elderly person). I figured I might as well stay up and get the most daylight out of this day, so I went about stretching, reading, waking up my mind. I had a bunch of messages on my phone--including an overzealous sister asking how my birthday had been which made me chuckle. I've never been this far away from my family, especially during my birthday, so it was strange trying to get in the "birthday mood" without them here. Strange, yes, but then I figured, I'm twenty now, this day can be whatever I want it to be ;)
After a self-catered breakfast and more moseying, I went to the pool. No, not a recreational pool--a lap pool to get some exercise. For some background, I learned to swim at four years old and swam competitively until I decided to get more involved with theatre in middle school. I was utterly burnt out and disillusioned with the sport, and would've been happy to never get in the pool again. However, I realized through the years that I had taken one thing for granted: sweat. Swimming is the only form of exercise that alleviates the uncomfortable feeling of sweat sticking to your skin, and it is liberating. So in an effort to get in shape, I hit the pool every now and then. This particular time though, I didn't feel like I was punishing myself or reliving childhood trauma. I was doing this to build strength and take care of myself. My muscles were adequately worked, I was twenty, and my smile beamed as I walked back to my room...
...which was covered with streamers, a happy birthday sign, a note, and a party bucket of Maltesers (Whoppers in America). YUM. I suddenly got that warm feeling in my chest--the one that occurs when someone does something for me I didn't expect. My friends hadn't forgotten! :)
The rest of the day was spent chilling at a cafe with some friends, several trips to the music rooms to write and practice, rehearsal with the band at college, and a Netflix movie to end the night. It may not seem like much, but it made me so happy. I was living this day to the best of my ability, feeling loved, and able to love others both digitally and in person. I was not taking anything for granted and it was wonderful!
But little did I know, the best was yet to come. The day after my birthday, I was completely blindsided by a surprise party my friends had cooked up. With the pretense that I was going to a meeting, I walked into the room to find twenty or so people jubilantly screaming surprise as I stood slackjawed in the doorway. I couldn't believe it. I honestly couldn't believe that people I had only known a few months would do this for me. It was so kind. So thoughtful, and they touched me more than I think they know.
All this to say, I encourage you to live every day like it's your ideal day, appreciating the seemingly small things and taking care of yourself. I think a birthday should be a proper "New Year" where you get to reset and live out your resolution. I know I'm going to try to live more like I did on my birthday. Moreover, living this way makes the surprises that much bigger and that much more meaningful. Twenty is great, but it's the people that make it better than I ever could've imagined.
Love you guys <3