Today is the day of my birthday.
I feel no different; it’s not as if at the strike of midnight my body has transformed into a frumpy pumpkin (despite it sometimes feeling like one). Instead, I went to bed feeling all but normal: the sound of the wind beyond my window sounded the same; the clothes I went to bed wearing felt the same; and the water I drank, the food I consumed, the toothpaste I used, all tasted the same.
But this morning does feel different. Today I am twenty-five. Yesterday evening, while driving home from the gym, I was quietly contemplating my age, and considering how different my perception of the mid-twenties is now that I’ve reached them.
I remember when I was young thinking my aunts and uncles in their mid-to-late twenties were so old, so mature, so cool. Strangely enough though, even then I knew none of them had it together; I knew deep within that all these “adults” around me were just as scared as I was, and that the only thing separating them from me was perhaps their height, and facial hair. I look to my younger nephews now and wonder if they too see how frightened their older uncle is, how terrified of the world he can be. I hope I come off as just the least bit brave, when needed.
But each year I get older, I feel more like myself, and so I suppose at some point, should I continue this aging thing long enough, I will feel like myself. I will have it together. And perhaps, someday, I will not fear as much.
My birthday coinciding with the end of the year, and a holiday I always brush off and refuse to think of being one, is a topic that if I asked about, I will likely say is meaningless. This is because I rarely do much of anything on my birthday; instead I spend it with family, in the quiet solitude of my childhood home, watching it pass as the new year arrives.
But not this year. Instead, this year I will try my best to be brave. I will go out. This year I will stretch my legs and lift my chin. This year I will smile for pictures instead of shying away from the camera. This year I will drink in the passion of my friends and feel hope at both the beginning and end of the night.
This year I will look to the new year and know it must be better, know it has to be better, for when hitting rock bottom you are left with a single conciliatory thought, and that is that it can get no worse—it can only get better. I will write more. I will write every day. I will put time into this, and effort. I will write every day and fill every page I can with every word I can and build every story I can because of how close I came to leaving the rest of my own book blank, my story unfinished.
This year, I will.
And before I blow out the final candle, I will appreciate all that twenty-four has afforded me—even the worst bits—because, truly, no good story was ever all good, just as none was ever all bad; we need both to feel.
And this year, more than anything else, I feel grateful to feel.