I officially hit a quarter of a century - 25 years on the earth - later this week.
I've always loved birthdays, my own and other people's (more on this here). Making it a special day, marking it with something different. I never understood people who said they didn't celebrate their birthdays: why wouldn't you?
And yet this year, I've anticipated my birthday with nothing close to joy or excitement. Having a birthday and - specifically - turning such an undeniably 'adult' age means I can no longer hide behind the guise of being a 'Young Person' or '21 plus a few'. My Peter Pan-like self is forced to come face-to-face with the truth that I am, to all intents and purposes, an adult.
When I was younger and I dealt with these 'worries', I always expected that it would be a passing phase, something I'd grow out of; that by the time I was 'grown up' (whatever that means) I'd be a fully-fledged, fully-functioning adult and these fears would be a distant memory of adolescence. Marking my birthday means facing the painful reality that right now I'm kind of in a place I hoped I'd never be again.
So many people must feel similarly when their day rolls around. I can see why marking 'special' days after the loss of a loved one, a terminal diagnosis, or a relationship breakup is too painful to face.
And Yet. I'm still going to celebrate on that day. Not because life is perfect or particularly happy right now, not because I've achieved what I hoped to by 25 or that I'm where I hoped I'd be, but simply that I have LIFE. Joy may be somewhat eclipsed at the moment, but I still have family and friends who love me and a God who gave me life.
While I have breath in me, I have a reason to thank God for it. While I have life, there is reason to celebrate.
(Heck, there's even more reason after this life, but that's for another time).
When I'm coping okay, I can see the point of all of the above. But when I'm struggling, it feels far from what I want to do. Despite this, I choose to see my birthday as an archetype of the way I wish I lived every day. Not as a day where we pretend life isn't difficult and the world isn't broken, but a celebration of what we have, with a hope for what the future could hold.