On the eve of my birthday, I felt lonely. I woke up 19 minutes before needing to leave; jumped in the shower; and opted for a concealer, mascara and air-dried hair kind of look. More and more, I find myself choosing this morning routine.
Driving to work, I felt a contradiction. On one hand, I’m sitting in an incredibly clean and polished new 2017 Toyota. On the other hand, my outfit still matches the identity of a 1995 Honda driver.
The clock reads 9:03 a.m. as I pull into the parking lot. Damn, I’m late by a few minutes again.
As I walk down the cement path, I begin thinking about my 26th birthday. Like many mid-20 millennials, I have no idea what this means. All I know is that I feel more behind than what I pictured ten years ago.
I felt behind. The woman who earned a master’s and bachelor’s before turning 24. The woman who landed two internships to prepare for her career, beginning one internship while a sophomore undergrad. The woman who found her soul mate at age 20. The woman who never worked less than two to three part-time jobs while attending school full time. The woman who landed a full-time job before graduation. I felt behind.
I think, like with many millennials, the life-plan, life-milestone model has become a joke. Why else would I feel alone and behind on the eve of my 26th? An internal battle of comparisons has been eating at me for years. I’m just finally paying attention.
So, I decided to message my old undergraduate newspaper friends who were some of the first people who inspired me to be a better writer. I reached out to an old friend from high school, Liz, to see how she has been. I texted a new friend, Kayla, to make plans. I thought about writing projects that excite me. And most of all, I took a step back to cherish the people and the accomplishments that have led me to this moment right now. I also enjoyed a glass of wine and thought about how I would spend my birthday (my need for self-indulgence has not died).
So, fast forward through the night, and here I am on my 26th birthday—happily alone. Nick is working; my parents are on a cruise; my siblings, relatives and distant friends are going about their normal routine. And knowing this makes me happier than I have ever been. I get to own my celebration for the first time ever. The excitement and love gets to come from within. And I don’t have to disrupt the routine of my entourage in order to have a really great day. Plus, I can’t really be alone with you here.