Yesterday (5/27) marks 28 rotations around the sun.
I've thought a lot about my birthday these last few days. I've struggled with birthdays in the past; I looked forward to them and then was left feeling empty afterward. I got great presents and did fun things, but I either had subconsciously set ridiculously high expectations or had unexpected events come up that demanded more attention.
Part of me wished for the "good ol' days"; back when my group of friends would get together for a combined birthday/end of the school year party. Part of me knew I should be happy with what I had, but no matter what happened I was left feeling sad and a little disheartened.
The weird thing about growing up is that priorities change. When I was a kid, I loved getting gifts because it meant NEW TOYS AND STUFF(!!!) But as an adult, I've come to realize that I don't really dig getting gifts. I mean, I do. I just would prefer to spend some quality time with the important people in my life.
Now I'm going to embed some crappy punk rock that talks about growing up because, well, this is my blog and I can do what I want. It's also relevant (I think).
"Well I guess this is growing up" like a billion times
I played that crappy punk rock song partly because I owe a lot of my music tastes to these guys and a dude named Kenyon, who hooked my brother and me up with a heavily edited version of Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. I also played this song because it's crappy punk and it's fun to listen to. But mostly, I played this song because growing up is hard and sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense.
One of the main reasons I've been thinking so much about my birthday is that this year it fell on Memorial Day, as it has a few times in my life. This is nothing new, but until the last few years, Memorial Day just meant that I'd be out of school. It was a day to enjoy the sunshine on my face and look forward to a summer of shenanigans.
You see, my cousin Cameron served in the United States Marine Corps. He was two years older than me, so any time we got to hang out together I treated him like a big brother. Hanging out with his family was why I was banned from watching Power Rangers. I learned how to pick locks from Cameron. I learned what it meant to fully embrace the things I love from him.
Sadly, we lost him to suicide in 2017. Ever since then, Memorial Day has meant a lot more to me. It gives me an opportunity to think about Cameron and his service to our country. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on why we do what we do, and how we can do the most good. It gives me an opportunity to be thankful for what I have and figure out ways to give back.
Cameron's birthday has always been a few days earlier than mine, and this year he would have been 30. Starting a company centered around mental health and suicide sometimes weighs on me, but on his birthday it was especially difficult. I've found myself asking questions like "is this the right thing to do?", "would he be proud of what we're doing?", things like that.
Lastly, I think of everything that has happened since Cameron died. I think about how I can try to be the things I miss most about him. I think about how much we all miss him. I wish that he could have found the peace he so desperately needed.
You'd think that with all of this heavy thinking, this birthday would be pretty sad, right? That's what I thought too. But having all of this stuff to think about actually made this birthday of the best I've had in a long time. I finally feel like I'm headed in the direction I've been looking for. I donated my birthday to a nonprofit, I spent quality time with some of my favorite people, I got meaningful gifts, and I had a conversation with one of my best friends that really lifted me up. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday.
Thank you for all who helped make it a good day. Thank you for your support. Thank you for believing in me and what we're doing at bobbox. Thank you for being here. Thank you for choosing to stay, for pushing through the hard times. Thank you for running, walking, crawling through the darkness, hoping that you'll see the light. Thank you for being you.