In less than a week’s time, I will be turning a year older – which is not saying much, as I’m a firm believer of growing older by experience and not by calendar. Kind friends have hinted at wanting to celebrate the occasion – for which I’m thankful, really – but my birthday has never been my thing. On other people’s birthdays, I like to play the role of head organizer: I contact everyone, I plan itineraries, and I make sure the conversations keep going. But on my birthday I prefer being alone to stew on the true meaning of aging. Last year, I spent my birthday writing Arashi fanfiction alone, and I don’t think I spoke with anyone the whole day. Sheer bliss.
My birthday this year is made even more significant by the fact that I am now irrevocably an adult. I don’t feel like one, and I’m not sure I even know what it feels to be one, but I’ve come to a point of my physical growth where I can start popping out kids once every year and walk away (relatively) unscathed. It honestly bothers me that while my friends are out there happening to things – becoming managers, falling in love, seeing the world, starting families – I am still trying to survive college with as much dignity as I can muster. What makes it worse is that I feel like everyone around me is giving me grief for lagging behind, as though I, too, wanted to be that girl that everyone would remember at parties and shake their heads over while thinking, “She had so much potential, but she wasted it.”
To comfort myself, I think from time to time that I have been humbled and made wiser by the emotional void of the past four years. Granted, it has turned me into stone – or a plant, whichever, in any case, I don’t feel very human – if only because hardening my heart became the only way to keep myself in one piece. I tell myself, maybe this is what being an adult is about, maybe it’s about learning to forgive yourself and slowly coming to terms with the fact that the superwoman you so wanted to be at age 15 is now an impossible vision that you will never achieve. Maybe being an adult is accepting the reality that for most people, life is an overrated struggle to survive, and the only highlight of your month will take form in that plastic tub of ice cream that you allow yourself once in a while if only because it makes you feel less lonely about being undeniably alone.
I am turning a year older, and I’m not sure what I think about it.