Sunday, September 22, 2013

21 Things on My 21st Birthday

I was born on Tuesday, September 22, 1992 at 2:14pm PST.

In other words, today is my 21st birthday.

It's hard to believe that I am blessed enough to say those words. For many years, I didn't think that I would get here, but by the grace of God, I am.

Every year around my birthday, I tend to get very pensive and I spend a great deal of time reflecting on my life. The fact that my Mercy grad anniversary is September 21 also serves to kick my reflection into high gear. This year marked three years since I graduated the program.

Typically, my reflection takes on an overtly critical tone. This year, I'm trying to shift that, and that's where this blog comes in. I have an extraordinarily difficult time viewing my life through a lens of grace, and as much as I write and say positive things, I'm often thinking the absolute opposite.

I've decided to write a list of 21 things that are worth celebrating about me, and my life thus far. I think it's important for me to acknowledge the incredible ways that I've grown and changed throughout the years today - and I want to be dwelling on these things as opposed to the fact that I think I should be further along in my life.

Without further adieu...

21 Things to Celebrate About My Life Thus Far...

1. I am alive.
  • That in and of itself could be the list. I'm still here. I'm still fighting. I'm still living. My heart is beating, my lungs are breathing, and I have woken up every morning.
2. I'm in my junior year of college.
  • So what that the majority of friends my age are seniors and graduating this year? I'm in freaking college, and I'm doing relatively well here. From someone who never thought she'd graduate high school, that's pretty freaking successful.
3. I have made incredible friends who love me and desire to celebrate my life.
  • I'm finally learning to have healthy friendships!! That's incredible, and I'm so so so blessed by the friends that i have made throughout the years who have stuck by me, and for the new friends whom I have made since coming to Gordon. 
4. I have a family that loves me.
  • I may not be living in the same country as them, but I have no doubt in my mind that my family loves me. There has been so much growth in our relationships, and I'm so thankful for the fact that God is in the process of repairing and restoring our family as a whole.
5. I haven't hurt myself in over three years.
  • 'nuff said.
6. God loves me.
  • I'm finally beginning to grasp that...for real.
7. I have developed a strong support network that extends beyond my friend group.
  • I don't know what I would do if I didn't have people who were willing to mentor me, counsel me, and pour into my life. 
8. I have learned so many skills that are useful in maintaining my recovery.
  • I'm finally getting to a place where I am confident in the skills that I have gained, and I know how to implement them. (Whether I do it or not is an entirely different story...but we're getting there!)
9. I'm gaining experience in a field that makes me feel extremely fulfilled.
  • My internship with Amirah that I began over the summer has continued into the Fall, and I'm learning so much still. I feel like I am a valued member of the team, and it's actually so nice to feel like I'm contributing things of importance.
10. I've been given countless opportunities to walk with people through hard times.
  • It's always such a blessing to me when I'm given the opportunity to walk with a friend who's struggling, or when I encounter a person who just needs someone to be there and support them...and when I get to do that, I feel so filled up. It's splendid. 
11. I've learned not to take myself too seriously.
  • Sometimes we all just need to laugh at ourselves...
12. I have found my voice, and I'm no longer afraid to use it.
  • I have important things to say, and over the years, I've found myself speaking up more and more. I am allowed to take up space, and I am allowed to be heard. If that's not something to celebrate, I don't know what is.
13. I've had the opportunity to travel some.
  • The more I talk to people, the more I realize that even if I've only been out of the US and Canada twice, I've seen more of both of these countries than a LOT of other people. I've been blessed with the opportunity to visit friends and family across the continent, and to travel by myself and go on so many great adventures. There's going to be plenty more to come as well!
14. Not only has my biological family gotten closer, but I have been blessed with a chosen family that just keeps growing.
  • I love my family - biological and "adopted". I'm so thankful that I've been placed in families across the continent, and I know that I have big sisters who love me, and big brothers who'll protect me, and an extra set of parents who'd love me like I was their own if given the chance!
15. I'm learning to give myself grace and to trust in the process.
  • Life is a process, and I'm learning that making mistakes is perfectly acceptable, and actually normal. To slip up and to "fall forward" is something that is definitely manageable, and I'm learning to take something away from each time I fall to help me keep moving forward. It's slow going at times, but it's still forward motion. 
16. I haven't been in intensive ED treatment in over a year!
  • That's a pretty huge one for me. A year out of treatment is a big deal.
17. When people look at me, they see someone who is full of joy and hope, not despair.
  • I used to look completely different - even physically. My eyes were dull and lifeless. I looked exhausted and defeated. Now...I'm so full of life! If people didn't know, they'd never guess that I've been well-acquainted with hopelessness for many years. That's definitely the grace of God all over me. 
18. I can just be me.
  • I'm starting to embrace the fact that I don't have to change to meet other people's crazy expectations for myself. As I discover who I am as an individual, I'm able to embrace that. I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not, and there's so much freedom in that!
19. I have unshakeable hope.
  • Professionals think my hope is awespiring, and it comes in handy when I'm having a rough time...even if sometimes I get frustrated by my inability to let go of that. Thankfully, my hope is in God and not in things of this world...definitely makes things a lot easier.
20. I have been able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, and look for ways to improve in the areas where I need to go, and look for ways to implement my strengths that make me feel useful!
  • It's been a process...even getting to the point that I can acknowledge that I have strengths....but it's great. Humbling, quite often, but so so good.
21. Finally, because this is like...the biggest thing...I'M STILL HERE.
  • It's the same as number one, but man...this is huge. I'm legitimately alive, and I'm still fighting, and I'm never ever giving up. 
Thus concludes my list of things to celebrate. If, by chance, you are able to come up with more things that you want to celebrate about my life, feel free to comment. I would really appreciate your thoughts!!


  1. You are a loyal friend, strong woman of faith, amazing human being, spectacular, goofy, silly, fun, witty, clever, and absolutely wonderful! I'm sure I am in no place in my own life to say anything but I will anyways; I'm proud of who you are, what you've overcome, and your inspiring ambition! Happy 21st Birthday and may the next 21 years be full of growth and giggles!

  2. Absolutely love this and YOU! Your tenacity is a beautiful thing! The best is yet to come!

  3. Hi! If you end up reading this, I wanted to say I've felt the same--both in the positive and negative sense. I'm turning 21 pretty soon, and I've been obsessing with what to do/what should I do. Your blog reminded I should be thankful for where I am, and how far I've gotten. God is great, and He is good. Even when it's hard to believe and trust. Thank you for posting.
    I don't know who you are, or what your lot in life is right now, but I just wanted to say, keep being an inspiration to others! :) Keep fighting, keep going.


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