Attempting Joy in Tough Moments

My birthday is less than 3 weeks away. As each 24 hours is peeled away and it gets closer and closer, I can physically feel myself getting filled up with more and more dread and anxiety. I want to break down into tears when I think about it…and I HATE crying. It takes a lot to make me cry.

Birthdays are supposed to be celebrations. They are supposed to be joyful and happy. I know I should revel in the beauty of simply being alive – and I WANT to, I really do. But it just hurts.

It should feel good to know all that I’ve overcome and am in the process of overcoming. It should feel amazing to realize all that I am capable of doing, of loving, of saying, of…simply being. I don’t want it to hurt. I want it to be a day just like any other before it – not significant or remarkable, or special in any specific way. I want to go unnoticed this year on my birthday.

Three years ago on my birthday I remember arriving back to school after having performed with my local symphony – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Two years ago on my birthday, I remember bawling my eyes out in treatment in Denver, Colorado. Last year on my birthday, ironically enough, I was auditioning at the University of Michigan – where I currently sit as I type this.

I didn’t know my life would be like this – how could I have had any inkling of an idea?! Would I go back and change any of it if I could? Truth be told, some parts of it, yes…I would change them. But I can’t. And I guess my goal this year on my birthday is to focus on the fact that I am 365 days closer to heaven.

We never know when or how our stories will end. I’ve danced and flirted with death in more ways than one. I’m not proud of it – but I’m not ashamed of it either. So, why should my birthday be a day that I hide away and cringe at the sound of Taylor Swift’s “I’m feeling 22” which I know will inevitably be sung to me on multiple different occasions?!

It’s just tough. It’s tough because I miss my dog and my best friend. I miss the comfort of things that used to be while I am in love with the way things are now too. My life is confusing, painful, amazing, and filled with love, wonder, and passion. It’s the love, wonder, and passion that I hope I can carry with me no matter how old I get.

365 days closer to heaven. 365 days closer to the answers. 365 days closer to coming face to face with the One who keeps my heart beating, the breath in my lungs, and the pursuit of love constantly in my mind.

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon

19th birthday!
20th birthday!
21st birthday!
almost 22

“We never give up! Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are growing stronger each day. These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-17


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