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If you sent me a message last night, and my head seemed like it wasn’t in the right space… it wasn’t. This might be of help to explain some things.


Honest moment: I’m notorious for spending the night before my birthday an emotional wreck.


Every year, the night before my birthday, I snap into some sort of life crisis mode. It’s kind of like the quarter century crisis trying to figure out exactly what I’m doing with my life, even though I might not actually be trying to figure it out. But it’s like this overwhelming anxiety that I get, feeling like I might not be doing life the right way or I’m falling behind for some reason (which, by the way, I know are all lies). It would happen in junior high, and high school, and college, and post-college. And, I wish I could say that since then, those sensations have completely disappeared but then I’d be a terrible liar.


And after I finally get over the, “you’re really going to be okay” pep talk to myself, I transition over to the relationship crisis stage, which most of the time, lasts significantly longer than the life crisis freak out because I’ll sit in bed repeating over and over to myself the exact same lines: This is the year. This is the year I’m going to soak in all the friendship I have and enjoy it with the people who are present and come to celebrate with me. I’m going to relish in my birthday with the people I love all in the same room, and not let my girly emotions get in the way of anything.


But sometimes, that doesn’t really work out because I’m too weak to combat my thoughts, and I get lost in my own train of them until my head hits the pillow hard. Sure enough the next morning, the sun would rise, the day would begin and the influx of lovely birthday texts and messages would come rushing in. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate every single one of them. But deep down in my beings, I would pick up the phone throughout the day, each time hoping for that one particular message or that one phone call or that one FaceTime. And then, the justifications would follow: Maybe he didn’t actually forget, maybe he just planned something more extravagant, or maybe it’s all just a crazy surprise, maybe…


I could probably tell your stories dating back at least the last ten years of every birthday ruined because the hopeless romantic in me was praying and hoping that some dreamy grandiose gesture would arrive in the mail, through FedEx, at my front door, perhaps in my sleep. Or, realistically speaking, how I would completely cater my birthdays so that the slight optimist in me could spend some extra time with that one particular person. And then when that didn’t actually happen, I would be so incredibly disappointed. Just in case anyone is in the mood for some extra juicy details, here are a few little snippets of serious fails just so we all can just sneak in some good laughs.


1. One time, I had made arrangements with this guy to go to Disneyland for my birthday. Then a couple hours before we were supposed to leave, he ended up texting me, telling me that he had to rain check because there was a ten page paper he had to work on that was due the next day. Except, we had made those Disneyland plans two weeks prior. But I get it, because sometimes professors assign large papers like that a couple days before they’re due. The only thing redeeming from that birthday was the friend who randomly texted me to see if I had plans for the night, and we ended up going out to Applebee’s for Happy Hour so praise the Lord for that happening that year.


2. One year, the guy I liked got tickets for me to see one of my favorite artists live in concert on my birthday for my birthday. He bought four tickets, so I assumed it would be a group of four where we were all friends. Let’s just say it ended up being me and another friend, third-wheeling while he was hardcore flirting with the fourth party the whole night. Talk about a show. Didn’t know I signed up to be a backup singer that night.


3. I thought I had learned from past experiences, so I started to include more friends into my birthday hangs. It would have been a really good idea, unless the person you like shows up to your birthday, then decides to take a nap in his car while waiting to get seated at the restaurant, and then proceeds to be disengaged with you the entire night because he was too busy texting the girl he was secretly dating the entire time.


4. There are more. If you want some good entertainment, holler at me. I promise you will be entertained. 😉


Dear Juliann, you are SO naïve sometimes. I’m legit chuckling pretty hard at myself as I’m writing.


I wish I could say I’ve gotten older and wiser and that I’ve surpassed the romanticizing. Buuutttt nooooope. I haven’t. It still very much exists. And I’m okay with that.


This is the only time in the year where I can couple my birthday thoughts with my Valentine’s Day thoughts, and it would be absolutely appropriate. I’m going to take advantage of that.


Coming from someone who has loved real hard, and lost real hard, but also has played every damn piece on the chessboard in the game of singlessness, because I’m pretty sure I’m as single as they come…


Love is about the process and YOU are forever a part of that process.


This ain’t no amazing race competition. You’re not trying to get to Thailand to Australia, to Germany, and back to the United States as quickly as possible. Sometimes, the journey is slower than you think, and you’re not going to be able to complete life as a team if you believe that you need someone to fill in the missing holes of yourself. No one can complete you. They will grow with you, add on to you, stretch you, challenge you, and make you better. But they will never, ever, complete you. Only God can do that.


No one will be able to live your life for you. I’ve heard people tell me that once they find someone to settle down with, then they’ll be able to live their life. Um. No. You want to live your life? Live it now. Go get Spotify Premium, make yourself a little dance your booty off playlist, go chase the sun, go eat doughnuts. And let the fact that those things are what you want to do, be why you do them. GO. LIVE.


You’ll meet someone. I promise, you’ll meet someone. Crap, maybe you already have. Or maybe it’ll take a few heartbreaks—you’ll fall in love, have your heart torn to pieces, and walk away. Or maybe, you won’t have to. Who knows? Be open to a love that could be unexpected, everything you imagined it would not be, and everything you thought wasn’t what you were actually looking for. Just stay real and stay honest. And make sure you’re allowed to be imperfect, and you are accepted in your messiness. Because Lord knows, we’re human and it gets real messy sometimes.


Because here’s the thing about humans and relationships: You will let each other down. You will forget little details. Some days, they’ll put their shirt on backwards and they might forget to brush their teeth. Dishes might break, laundry might not get done, and the trash very well could be taken out on the wrong day.


I used to believe in “the one”. I really did. Until I started to realize that “the one” was just that one person you’re deciding to love extra. It’s the one person who gets extra extra extra heaps of grace and some big scoops of compassion and understanding. It’s the person who gets more texts, and emails, and prayers, and tears, and all the realness and weirdness and quirkiness. And no matter what, even on the off days, you pick them. NO MATTER WHAT, YOU PICK THEM. AND THEY PICK YOU.


So, yeah, it’s the night before my birthday. Or by now, it’s actually my birthday and I’m still emotional as heck. But it’s because I’m seeing more clearly than ever that life and love are long stretches and processes. They’re a race consisting of defeats and victories. But regardless, you just have to keep running hard.


The finish line might not be in sight, but in this thing of life and love… you just keep running.


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