Thursday, June 28, 2012


People tell me that I will [soon, someday, probably when I am 30] reach an age where I do not want to acknowledge and celebrate my birthday. Well, People, I don't think you quite understand who I really am. As a self-described ferocious optimist, I see every birthday (even the up-coming, milestone ones) as another year with the potential to be awesome. Another year for me to grow and learn and love my life. It's another year I get to live my life; why not celebrate it?! Granted, I had a wee moment of panic just before June 19th that upon my 26th birthday, I would be closer to 30 than to 20, but it was fleeting. I'm mostly stunned that I'm 26; that it came so fast. I can remember being in middle school and being totally envious of hip 20-somethings and feeling like I was n e v e r going to get there. And then, BAM. 26. If there's any anxiety about "getting older" for me is that it happens at an alarming rate, and I don't want to waste any of my years.

My 25th year was pretty righteous. No quarter-life crisis for this girl. In fact, it was one of the best years of my life. I got engaged the day before my 25th birthday, and married Ethan a few months before this 26th one. My dad moved to Portland in my 25th year; Ethan and I adopted Ophelia. I went to so many weddings and on many fun adventures and reconnected with old friends and made new ones. Ethan and I started shopping for life insurance. I'm in the best shape I've ever really been in. What do I say to 26? Bring it on!

Birthday flowers from my co-worker. And a birthday tiara, of course!
At the close of year 25 and the recent start of my 26th year, I've been thinking more about lessons I've learned. Certainly, I do not have the wisdom granted to those much older than me, but during my 25 years (particularly years 20-25) I have learned so many life lessons. Inspired by a recent post from the lovely Miss Mallory, I give you:

What I Wish I Could Have Told My Younger Self

Don't try so hard to be like "them." In 10 years, you'll be on top of the world, and they'll be barely treading water. It IS cool to be SMART.  You are not an athlete; you never will be. But you can, and will, be healthy, and defy your family history. Dad is an adult. He has to learn to take care of himself. Support him, but do not sacrifice your own life for difficulties he caused for himself. Friendships will come and go. The friends you have who are like family will s t i l l be there when you're 26, even if they live in other cities/states. You will want to be a teacher, but you will realize that that is not your path. You have to be okay with it; when you're 26, you'll actually love your math-heavy financial aid job. Having a boyfriend in high school will not define you. Also, it isn't going to work out the way you want it to, but you will learn so much from it about yourself and about life; your unsuccessful marriage will help you grow and fall in love with your self. Do not drink too much. Ever. Okay, you will drink too much and you will have some hangovers where you'll wish you were dead. So, always alternate water and booze. Your liver will thank you. You're 22. Newly single. Heartbroken and lost. Enjoy being single. The man of your dreams will show up when you least expect it. He's a handsome older man, and you'll know the instant you meet him that you are meant to be. He will change your life. You will have hip surgery. All those years of PT did not really help. The painkillers will make you really ill. Be ready. rehabilitating will be hard work, but you're strong. Being a girl without a mother is hard, but listen to the adult females in your life. They will help shape the woman you  become. Dad will drive you crazy, but you're going to grow into a woman that mom will be so, so proud of. You're going to screw up; make mistakes, think that you hate yourself. Don't dwell on it; once you heal, you'll rise out of the ashes, stronger than before. Music is going to change, but also be really the same. Do not, under any circumstances listen to someone named Justin Beiber. Just don't.  Hey 6 year old Maria: you will learn to love sushi, broccoli, most other vegetables and even some kinds of beer (light ones, mostly, and only when you're 21) and you'll have an adventurous palette! There are other delicious foods besides pizza and macaroni & cheese. You're a late-bloomer; someone once told you you'd be short and flat chested forever. Just wait til your 20s. Good things really do come to those who wait. You are beautiful. When you're 26 and totally in love, someone will take pictures of you like this:

Maria and Ethan. Courtesy Erin Kroll.
Your life is going to be awesome and hip. Don't let anyone or anything get you down. Celebrate your birthdays, triumphs, every day. Learn from mistakes, heartache, people smarter than you. Enjoy whatever life throws at you.