Happy Birthday, Shaaay! Happy New Year, Shaaay! Dearest 33, I never took the time to welcome you with grace or with passion for life. You see, at the time, I was in a dark, dark place. So dark, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. You were forgotten, never celebrated and even worse, your self-esteem was at an all time low that you believed you weren’t worth celebrating. You received no birthday cards, or anything to commemorate your entrance into the world on the 28th of March. Although you received happy birthday messages, your spirits weren’t up to even believing that there was anything happy about your birthday. You blew out candles that mimicked the numbers 33 atop a stack of pancakes; pancakes that were made out of pity because it was done as a favor. 33, I apologize deeply for allowing such a thing to happen. There aren’t enough adjectives, verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adverbs to describe how apologetic I am.
In the beginning of 33, you were a shell of yourself, hardened by the rough trenches that you were walking through. At the time, you lived second by second, watching the clock tick tock as you watched yourself deteriorate. Nothing could pull you out of this ill willed feeling of despair, yet you found strength each day. How you did it, I may never know and I don’t give you enough credit. I used to think that 33 was a bad year. But, as I sit here looking back on the 365 days that you’ve circled the sun and moon, I can say that it has truly been an eye opening, stretching, trying, tiring, blessed, and the most knowledgeable year of your life.
In your 365 days, you have seen and witnessed a massive amount of hate and love. Both of which have been such blessings. Sometimes in life we need the negatives to make for better positives, and I can truly say that the phrase has worn it’s welcome out. There were many different moments that has etched its memory into your little heart, but there is one pivotal memory that has stuck and will forever be a reminder of how strong willed, brave, and beautiful you are. You were stuck, living in your head with no outlet to plug into because the closest person to you was no longer the closest person to you. You were given such negative feedback that your family and friends couldn’t pull those thoughts out of your head. Your self-esteem was at its lowest point; you felt worthless, incompetent, weak, and felt as though you were doing everything wrong. You felt as though the race in life was something you would never come out of winning. You came to a point in your life where you questioned your existence, you questioned everything about yourself and you loathed yourself. So much so that the thoughts of falling back and disappearing entered your mind; you had no plan in mind, but you pictured yourself walking into waters so deep that it swallowed you whole and you would just watch your life flash before you. You were lucky enough that you had friends and family to keep you sane, to remind you of the things that were important, who reminded you of how important you are to them, who always made sure you were okay despite your days being bad and sad, who always took the time to hear you and let you unplug, and who reminded you that you were better than what you were conditioned to think of yourself. Dearest self, you pulled yourself out of that dark, cold room and came out prevailing. Not everyone is able to do that, not everyone is able to be brave enough to fight those thoughts off. You’re a survivor and a warrior at that.
I’ve realized that in your 365 days you have had someone constantly watching over you, ensuring that no matter the steps you take, you never fall too far behind. Whatever that is, whoever that is, it’s given you the chance to love yourself all over again, to fall in love with life again and again, to give you the strength to believe that although little, you are fierce and were made to do such great things; no matter how little they may be to someone else, you were made to do great things.
I entitled this post using the song Jesus Walks by Kanye West and added this to my 2018 playlist not because I am comparing my pain and struggles to what Jesus did for his peoples. I entitled this post using this specific song because the power and strength in the lyrics provokes an infinite feeling of hope, light and love. I believed that I wasn’t a person worthy of love, a person worthy of good things because I had let the evil of all evils derail the path that I was walking on. I let the illusion of a life that I had taken from someone else, not on purpose, lead me to a life that was just that, an illusion. Jesus Walks is an ode to 33 because I am thankful for yet seeing another year of life.
This year I’m going to do something different. 33, because you were never truly celebrated, we’re going to celebrate you in its entirety while entering year 34. We are going to celebrate your losses, gains, and triumphs and ensure that we say goodbye to 33 in an epic way while welcoming 34 and all its adventures. As we say goodbye and say hello, we’re going to let go of the infamous phrase, “you don’t deserve to be celebrated.” Let go of it completely and the validation/justification of why it was said, because no matter how ill willed, how hurt or angry the other party was/is, there is no justification/validity to that statement. EVERYONE deserves to be celebrated, you were given life for a reason and that life was given to you by a higher power. Celebrate the fuck out of yourself!
34, 30 fuckin 4! I’m so happy to see you here and I’m so happy that I am able to open my eyes to see another year. I can’t make any promises about how great this year will be or make cliché statements about how things will change or turn for the better. But, what I can promise is that you will smile more, laugh more, marvel and admire more, giggle more, dance more, sing more, eat more, cry less, frown less, and feel hurt less. To tell you the truth, I’m sad to see 33 go because although such bad conversations and memories are etched, I’ve also made some great conversation and memories as well. I have never experienced and witnessed such growth in all my years that 33 is one year to take down in the books.
A few things that I will remember as I age yet another year: skincare is important; sexy is being comfortable in your own skin; never give anyone the permission to make you feel inferior; keep your options open; read a book; do the things you love; enjoy your own company; you will learn to trust again; love will come when you are ready for it; and when all else fails, laugh.
34, I don’t want to sit here and tell you things that I don’t want for you. Instead I will sit here and tell you the things that I wish for you and hope for you. We can’t right the wrongs and we can’t undo the hurt and pain that you’ve endured. Look at how far you’ve come, look at where you were versus where you are now; there’s a huge difference in the mood and the picture that’s being painted in front of your face. You were given false hope, living in the lies that were told, only finding the truth to those lies eight months later. Yes, you’ve cried the hardest you’ve ever cried in your life. But, with pain like that, so pure and true, it only solidifies that you have loved and you know love. You shared your hopes, dreams, goals, fears, mistakes, and life; trusting wholeheartedly.
I wish you the very best of luck in all your future endeavors; small, medium, and large. I wish you the love that you deserve and know that you will one day have. You are special and those that you have surrounded yourself with in the short nine months have noticed it. Don’t ever question your worth, what you bring to the table and whether or not love is in your future. Shay, you are worthy of all things the highest power places in your life and never let anyone allow you to believe anything less than that. The love that you once knew and lost is only a stepping stone to what true love will be; the BEST love of your life will come when you are ready for it. With the love that you lost, you are now able to see what it is that you need in this life, not to complete you, but to add to your life as a bonus. You now know that love shouldn’t complete you, but be a bonus in your life.
34, I wish you 34 more years of good health, 34 more years of success, 34 more years of laughter and smiles, 34 more years of adventures with people who have good intentions. I wish you an abundant amount of happiness; happiness that will feed into the universe, only bringing you back more happiness. And remember, learn new things and have fun because you only have 365 days to make 34 count.
As I enter this year, I am going in with eyes wide open, ears with an enormous amount of sensitivity to take in all the sounds, shoulders that will stand tall throughout all storms, hands that will touch souls to make a difference, legs and feet that will hold the weight of the world, and a mind that’s willing to learn about this majestic universe. I love you, Shay. I may not say it enough or think it enough, but I truly love the woman that you are becoming. Life has thrown you lemons and you’ve made lemonade; in the same way that life has thrown you limes, you’ve made limeade. You’re resilient, resourceful, strong willed, brave, unique, and fuckin’ funny! Don’t ever change who you are, belittle your strong presence, or change who are you to fit the box they want you in. So as you start this new tradition of saying goodbye to your previous year in the same fashion you welcomed it, remember to celebrate every tear and frown; ensure you hug yourself tight for the sadness and happiness you felt; congratulate yourself for making it through the toughest days of your life. Happy Birthday, love! Make this year count.