It's a Birthday Thing

September 08, 2013

 It's my birthday again! Head's up for the overly philosophical, pretentious, and extremely ramble-y un-edited post that I almost always make on my birthday.

This is one of my senior photos taken by my talented friend Jewels, who is getting quite good at using my camera. :) I also look really weird without glasses. 

For some reason, every year on my birthday, I start to get a little freaked out about the fact that, yes, I am, in fact, growing older.

I think that this is the sort of thing that bugs everyone who over-thinks and over-analyses life in general. In the midst of the partying and hanging out with friends, you pause for a moment and realize that time is passing.

It's a strange thing, if you think about it. Every moment is a moment that comes and goes, so why do birthdays make me think so much about time and growing up?

Insert random photo of flowers... because overthinking things makes me think of flowers
I'm one of those weird people who never, ever wanted to grow up. Sure, I loved the freedom I earned from the responsibilities I undertook over the years, but deep down I was Peter Pan. "Don't wanna grow up!"

Part of it was a bit of a prideful thing. As a child (and it is so strange to think that I am no longer a child, nor have I legally been for an entire year!), I was blessed with talent, dedication, and an encouraging family. I loved doing arts and crafts and science and writing and reading. Like everyone else, I appreciated and loved being complimented on the things I worked so hard on.

I always dreaded growing older. Not because I was a morbid kid with a gothic fear or fascination with death or even old age, but because I had this idea that anything I did at a young age was worth more than if I did the same thing when I was older.

So many people would say things like: "WOW! I can't believe you came up with something as creative and detailed as that and you are only 9 years old!"

"No way you drew that! What do you mean, you don't take take art classes? Holy cow, you are only 15?"

Sadly, I always did and still usually do make a point of telling people "oh yeah, I did this way back when I was 15."

While I know they meant well, and while I loved these sorts of compliments, I trapped myself into a weird mindset. I became convinced that my work became less impressive and less meaningful the older I got. To be brutally honest, I'd daydream of being a child prodigy. (This was especially bad one year after reading a book about Akiane, a painting prodigy who is only a year older than me and lived in my old town before I lived there. I wondered what I was doing with my life and why I couldn't be awesome like her.)

Today I am 19. This is the first birthday that I am spending away from my family. My new college friends have made my entire birthday weekend an absolute BLAST (and if I weren't in a really thoughtful mood at the moment, this entire post would be nothing but paragraphs worth of exclamation marks because my new friends are really amazing and sweet!!!).

I'm an adult now. I'm old enough that I could get married. I could get a regular job and live on my own. I buy my own groceries now. I'm in college, living in a dorm, and life is so surreal and exciting. I'm taking actual art classes and receiving training from people who are so talented that I am blown away and overwhelmed by their gifts.

And today, for the first time, it struck me how completely stupid my fear of growing up was. Growing up does not invalidate talent. Growing up does not make me less important. Growing up has, instead, made me realize that the world does not revolve around me, and that my goal right now is not to do amazing things and revel in compliments, but to attempt to be humble and learn. Other people are just as important, and in many ways are far, far more important. If I've been blessed with different gifts than many other people, I've been given these gifts to help others and to glorify God-- not to glorify me. I don't know everything and I am not good at everything, and being in college in the midst of new people, places, and ideas is making that really sink in.

Besides, even though I am growing older every second of every day, I never actually have to grow up. Growing up is overrated. One of my best friends came over a month before I moved in to college to take my senior photos. We started taking some cool normal ones:

But then we forgot that we were 18 years old and played dress up for hours and hours outside of an old cemetery.

I'm growing up to be a complete nerd, and I'm totally okay with it. As John Green says:

Graphics credit to ?. Via Pinterest.

As I was writing this, Jason Mraz came up on my playlist. I think the lyrics to this song are fitting, because they certainly fit my mood:

The world as I see it, is a remarkable place
A beautiful house in a forest, of stars in outer space.

And to make this be a triad of quotes:

  "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders." --G.K. Chesterton

So this year I am going to work more on appreciating life and being grateful. I'm sounding really cheesy and cliche, but right now I don't care.

Spock out.

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  1. This was an amazing post, Shaylynn! I loved it. Happy birthday!

  2. Beautiful post. Though not as talented as you, I understand the thoughts of being younger making one's accomplishments more important. Congrats on getting past that. :D

    Happy Birthday!

  3. Happy Birthday!!! I hope you had a swell day! :D

    And nope... it's not weird to not want to grow up. Peter Pan all the way! ;)

    By the way, I LOVE YOUR DRESS!! The sleeves are fantastic!


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