I happen to think birthdays are kind of a big deal. I don’t mean huge celebrations and fancy gifts, but I do think they are important markers in someone’s life. They offer a chance to celebrate and remember where you’ve been and where you’re going.
This birthday seems somewhat significant only because I remember exactly what happened one year ago. I cried. Yep, I cried on my birthday. I know the song says, “It’s my party and I can cry if I want to” but usually I think birthdays are better celebrated without tears. For my birthday last year I went out to my favorite little beachside restaurant in Santa Barbara with two of my best friends. And while we were sitting over burgers and beers one of them asked, “So, what are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?”
Something Needed to Change
It’s a simple, very appropriate birthday-ish question. But I froze, because the truth is I couldn’t answer it. I tried to swallow back the lump in my throat and squeeze back the tears, but my attempt was futile. The tears came. Slowly at first, and then the whole waterworks show. The thing is it wasn’t a bad question at all, but I wasn’t exactly in a “hopeful-joyous-lets-dream-about-the-future” kind of place. I was so confused and worn-out that I honestly didn’t know what I hoped for in the year ahead. Fear and doubts were more prevalent than hope and joy. I felt stuck; like I was waiting for something to change, but the worst part was I didn’t know what I wanted to change. I couldn’t name the feeling or the longing inside.
So what do most women do when we don’t have the right words to express what we’re feeling? That’s right. We cry. We just let the tears come. Sometimes tears triumph over words, languages and longings. men: a helpful note when your (insert any female in your life) begins to show the first sign of tears, sometimes words are not beneficial. In this case, just hug.
One Year Later
Yesterday I celebrated my 28th birthday with new friends, chocolate birthday cake and a wonderful surprise by someone special. There were no tears and for this I am thankful. But I am even more thankful that I’m in a different place. Not so much physically, but emotionally. This past year has been a lot of letting go of my plans and my expectations. Its meant being ok feeling a little uncomfortable and a lot out of control. It’s meant taking a risk and giving myself room and permission to try, to dream and to hope. This birthday I celebrated the wonderful things that happen when you listen to that unsettled, longing inside in order to welcome something new.
Here’s to every women (and man) who has cried on your birthday. May you know that it will not always be like this. Sometimes painful tears give way to beautiful surprises. So, what am I most looking forward to in the year ahead?
Learning how to celebrating the surprises.