I've felt this summer day 24 times.
And while so many things have changed over the years, I've never felt so much like myself as I do right now in this very moment.
This morning, I was standing on my balcony thinking about everything I've done in the 24 short years I've been on this planet. I tried to look at my life from an outsider's point of view, racking up all of the things I've accomplished, trials I've overcome, friends I've made and lost, places I've been to, dreams I've had. I stood there on my balcony and I felt a tremendous sense of pride for myself. I don't give myself enough credit, so today, I'm letting myself feel all of it. And it feels great.
Before getting ready for the day, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror. Self-analyzing. Me at 24. Me not wearing a trace of makeup, with hair messy from a good night's sleep. The corners of my eyes that wrinkle and cheeks that puff up when I smile. The millions of freckles that seem to outline the bed sheet markings on my body. I breathed in, and I breathed out. I'm alive, and I feel alive.
I've spent 24 years with myself and I still learn something new every day, I come to terms with and fall in love with a new part of myself all the time, and that's gotten so much easier as I've gotten older. Something in me is just much more appreciative than when I was younger. I'm getting somewhere. I'm making progress. I feel like I'm officially an adult. I've done so much since my 23rd birthday. I moved out of my parent's house, moved across the country for a job, got promoted at that job, met my boyfriend's parents, traveled a lot, felt highs and lows, and ultimately grew into the person I am right now. And I really love this person.
And I think for the first time, I realized that my birthday doesn't have to be significant to me, it doesn't have to be some huge ordeal filled with celebration and outrageous gift-giving and party-throwing (although, both are nice).
As I sat with myself this morning, I realized that a birthday doesn't mark an age, but a time. A snapshot of a time I'll look back on when I'm older and say, look how young, look at the smile in my eyes, remember that little apartment, remember how stressed I was over silly little things. I'll look back at this time and wonder how I got from here to there, and I'll realize I did it all because I'm strong-willed and confident in myself.
Thank you God for giving me 24 glorious trips around the sun!