Rediscovering the joy of celebrating another free trip around the sun

“Celebrating another birthday is not an opportunity for reconciling passed failures and unfulfilled dreams, but rather a chance to appreciate what many have not been afforded…”

I used to hate celebrating my birthday.  For a good couple of years, it was one of my best-kept secrets. I didn’t particularly embrace getting older; I often felt like I was running out of time which is a bit crazy considering I am only 25.  I usually dedicated the day to refining my self-proclaimed Oscar-winning acting skills, because I spend the whole day pretending to be happy when what I really wanted was a time machine or directions to fountain youth (the one Pharell drinks from) 

So on the morning of the 17th December 2014, on my 23rd birthday, I woke up like I usually do on my previous birthdays, dreading the day. At that point in my life, I had been feeling quite unsatisfied with my professional and social life or lack thereof. Just the idea of getting a nine to five job made my stomach turn so I’d withdrawn myself from the rat race. Also considering I’d drunken myself one shot away from alcohol poisoning during my university days, I’d electing to ditch my friends and find any excuse possible to not have to involve myself in any social activities that would demand me leaving the comfort of my home.  Perhaps the hardest part of all is the self-imposed judgement I had squarely placed upon myself for what I deemed my failure to materialise my visualised dream life. Believing that the universe had given me all the right tools to support my success only meant any dissatisfaction that was brewing was firmly on my shoulders.  

So while I was busy being self-indulgent and throwing myself an extravagant pity party, I suddenly started thinking about my childhood friend MmaMolefe. You see, I‘ve always considered myself to be quite witty and sassy but I had nothing on MmaMolefe. She is literally the happiest person I have ever met. She was a beautiful girl, inside and out. MmaMolefe was often sick. Growing up, I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t sick yet she always had the biggest smile on her face. I will admit that as a kid, I didn’t realise just how sick she really was. Her health had ups and downs but toward the end of her life, she was wheelchair bound. We, of course, made sure to include her in everything that we did, if MmaMolefe couldn’t do something, we all wouldn’t do it. Sadly, when we were around 8 or 9 years old, she passed away. I thought of her short life and how she embraced every single moment even when she was in pain. Little MmaMolefe always had a smile on her face. Remembering her, shook me. I stopped what I was doing, shut down the pity party and I thought of all the hopes and aspirations she had had and how she never got the opportunity realise them.

I started thinking about how blessed I was and what a remarkable life I have lived, it hasn’t always been rosy, but I have been blessed enough to have laughed more than I have cried and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?  I have stood next to Eiffel in all of its glory, had a guard at the Louvre threaten to break my camera because I took a picture of the Mona Lisa, naughtily ignoring the “no flash photography” sign. I have been offered a marriage proposal, by a gorgeous Italian stranger, on the stairs of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence and almost froze my toes off climbing the Great Wall of China in Beijing (nobody bothered to tell me how freezing cold it was up there), so many other amazing experiences I will cherish forever. I have laughed so hard my stomach hurt and I’ve loved. Enormously and selflessly.  I’ve encountered extraordinary people and received overwhelming love, my family and friends have loved me faultlessly. They, for some unknown reason, actually like me. Me. I’m ridiculously impatient, I always want the last word and I am always trying to zig while everyone else is zagging. How can I be so blessed yet so ungrateful? I have it all.

Thinking of MmaMolefe reminded me of what is really important and that getting older means that I have been given something that so many of our loved ones don’t have any more, time. So I decided to embrace 23 and dedicate the free trip around the sun to my friend MmaMolefe. I decided to be BOLD and FEARLESS. I decided to celebrate my authenticity, my resilience and my sass.  And I went on to have the greatest years of my life. I have celebrated every birthday since with gratitude. However, I would be lying if I said the old dreadful feeling of not being where I thought I’d be at whatever particular age still tries to creep in but that feeling is always overpowered by my feeling of sincere gratitude for my life, as crazy and unpredictable as it may be.

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