This year I spent my birthday feeling a little out of sorts. All of my very best friends in New York gave me lovely presents and surprises, but for most of the day I was alone in this big city I am trying to call home.
I felt like I should feel lucky to have the day off on my birthday—a Tuesday, no less—and I should be happy exploring New York by myself, because I have always dreamed of living here and now I do. But the truth is, I felt lonely and overwhelmed despite my best efforts to feel otherwise.
This led to me getting upset with myself for not being happier, more thankful, more well-adjusted. It went like this: first, I got upset at myself for not feeling like a New Yorker and for wondering if I’m not cut out for this place after all. Then, I got upset at myself because isn’t living in New York and hating it the biggest cliché of all?
This emotional catch-22 lasted until I talked to a girl on her way to get a tattoo symbolic of her hometown. She told me she was moving back home after living here for a year and wanted to get something to remind her that she’d come to New York for a reason. ‘It wasn’t to live here; it was to realize how much I love home.’
Just writing that puts me at ease. When I mulled it over, I realized the reason I came to New York was to grow. I may not have a favorite restaurant or a dream job, but I am certainly learning something and striving to be a better person every day. And this is exactly what I want my life to be about.
When I think about my twenty-third birthday, I hope I’ll remember this lesson…and one of my favorite birthday parties ever. (It happened the Friday after my birthday, which was a MUCH happier day.)
Do you want to see pictures?
Thanks to Jess and Tasha for the majority of these pictures. Thanks to all my friends and family for a terrific birthday, overall.