XXV

Birthdays have always been important to me. As a child my parents would come eat lunch with me or bring treats for my classmates and myself to enjoy. I’d have my mom check me out of school and we would have lunch together even in high school. I’ve always loved balloons, cake, candles, birthday cards, and especially people singing happy birthday to me. In my voicemails you can find old messages of my dad and grandmother singing happy birthday, and I still have many of my old birthday cards on the dry erase board in my bedroom.

In 2013, my birthday took a turn for the worst. And even though April 15 was always a special day, now it is always a reminder of how blessed I truly am.

After celebrating with a few members of my framily, and a failed plan or two, we decided to hang out at my best friend’s apartment. As we were getting off the exit in her part of town, I heard this weird “pop” “pop” sound and thought maybe the car behind us, with another two of my best friends in it, had blown a tire. So we pulled over in the median and got out to see what happened–to our surprise and horror, there were bullet holes in my childhood best friend’s car. Thankfully everyone with me was okay, but we spent the rest of the night dealing with the aftermath of this drive-by shooting. As a part of their initiation these gang members were instructed to shoot at whatever cars they could find and left a high school student badly injured. 

That night I learned to never take any moment for granted and made a promise to myself that I would always make the best of my birthdays. So in honor of my twenty fifth birthday I want to share twenty five lessons I have learned over the years.

  1. Everything that I am and everything that I have, I owe all to God.
  2. The longest relationship I will ever have in life is with myself.
  3. Honesty is always the best policy.
  4. True love begins with me.
  5. The only person who can make me whole, is me.
  6. It is better to be over-dressed any day.
  7. Start every day with gratitude.
  8. End every day with gratitude.
  9. Patience is truly a virtue.
  10. Family is everything.
  11. God will always be there.
  12. I am beautiful, I am sacred.
  13. You can never stop learning or growing.
  14. It is okay to not be the smartest person in the room.
  15. I am capable.
  16. All you really need is one good friend.
  17. Emotions have never made me weak.
  18. Never become a part of the crowd. 
  19. It is okay to not be okay.
  20. Never let a man convince or try to convince you that you are less than who you are.
  21. You have too much to do to spend your energy where it is not reciprocated or restored.
  22. You may be alone, but you are never lonely.
  23.  Be neutral in your ego.
  24. It is okay to be happy.
  25. But God…

“I’m having a private party…celebrating the woman I’ve become. Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me!” x India.Arie

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