Today is my 30th birthday y'all, and it is such a mixed bag of emotions for me. I have always been the type of person who looked forward to my birthday, rather than being someone who dreaded it.
Due to the fact that my parents were divorced and my mom was an entrepreneur, my birthday was never something that was only celebrated on one day, but was a celebration that we stretched out over the course of one, sometimes even two weeks.
As the celebration of my 30th year began to approach, more and more people started warning me that perhaps this year wouldn’t be as full of fun filled pampering, and might instead, be somewhat bittersweet. Well I’ve thought about it, and y’all-- that’s just not really for me!
I work in an industry that celebrates people’s best days. Nearly every weekend I put on some variation of a black outfit, charge our walkie talkies, print timelines, and prepare to help couples marry their soulmates. I absolutely love what I do, but I also think it’s important to not feed into the old stereotype of ‘the cobbler’s family who has holes in their shoes.’
Since I’m always helping others celebrate their best days, it can often seem like I too, am always celebrating; and to an extent, that’s true. But I never want to become too busy with other people’s celebrations that I don’t take time to celebrate some of my own!
I wanted to share 30 things that brought me to where I am today, but rather than writing a novella, I’m going to break them into decades. Some were wonderful, some were heartbreaking-- but all of them were impactful and noteworthy.
Ages 0-10. We moved to NC and lived with my grandparents. I fell in love with a private school education and if I was a child in today’s day in age, I assuredly would have been diagnosed with high functioning anxiety, because I was the only first grader in my class who worried about getting into college. Eventually I was mainstreamed into public school, and I made friends with a group of girls who would prove to be friends for years to come. I took dance, fell in love with theater, and went to my first concert.
Ages 11-20. My best friend moved to Paris, my parents got a divorce, and it felt as though nothing would ever be normal in my life again. I struggled with my weight, survived puberty, and began getting crushes on boys at school. I traveled to Europe for the first time, and absolutely fell in love with it. I began telling my mom of all the places in the world other than my hometown, where I would live when I grew up. I somehow managed to be equal parts nerdy and popular, and had friends who supported me through all of it. I did pageants, joined dozens of student organizations, and like so many girls like me, picked up a number of eating disorders which allowed me to keep off the weight that haunted me from my adolescence.
Ages 21-30. I started saying yes to spontaneous opportunities-- two of which provided the opportunity to study in Italy and later in California. I learned that I preferred to visit far away places, but to live close to my family. I began helping with weddings and events, and whether I was baking cupcakes, pouring beers, or planning the whole day-- I became infatuated with an industry that I didn’t give much thought to before. I contemplated grad school, then applied to grad school, then got into grad school-- and didn’t go. I lost some friends along the way that I thought would be by my side forever. I traveled to new countries, got fired for the first time in my life, and went full time in a business I assumed would always be a hobby. I met a man that I chose to give my heart to; a heart that he chose not to take care of. I made new friends and reunited with old friends. I loved, and lost, and loved again.
Over the years, I have fallen in love with anything from a fabulous pair of shoes to a cute boy at a coffee shop. I have cried listening to music, reading a good book, and after walking into a beautiful cathedral and feeling the presence of God. I share all of this to say that birthdays should be about more than celebrating another day ahead-- they should also be about celebrating the life you have lived up to that point.
Like every year before this one, I will have several opportunities to celebrate with friends and loved ones and I am so grateful for each and every one of them. We are shaped by both our experiences and the people that we surround ourselves with, and I am eternally grateful for the people in my life who have been by my side through it all. If you’re reading this, I can only imagine it’s because we have crossed paths over the years in some way. So thank you for being here. I’m ever so grateful for you-- now let's go celebrate!