I Celebrated 22 by Eating Dinner Alone at Chipotle

ie. I didn’t celebrate.

At least, I didn’t celebrate my birthday on my actual birthday, and I certainly didn’t celebrate the way a typical 22 year old typically does (birthday shots in strappy stilettos at some hip bar with a group of friends???!!???? i don’t know, honestly).

Don’t get me wrong, I had cake and dinner with my family, and got a slew of presents (I’m lucky!) earlier in the week. But on my actual birthday, I went to Moosejaw, spent my evening trying out sleeping bags on the floor of the store (sleeping pad and all), walked to Chipotle and ate a chicken burrito bowl by myself, then went to a friend’s house and drink an Oberon before tucking in for the night (and I only did the last part so that I could feeeeel just a little bit average on my birthday).

You know what the best part of my birthday was? Joking around with the associates at Moosejaw, watching video clips on their register monitor, asking silly questions about sleeping bags, and ultimately laying down in a mummy bag while shoppers roamed the store.

I may not have a big group of close friends to celebrate with, but I have something I hold just as dear: These beautiful moments spent with strangers. I’m able to cherish the way the associate said “Bye forever” as he handed me my receipt. I love that small interactions with people I barely know can put a smile on my face as I walk down the street, and stick with me while I eat my burrito alone at a messy table. It’s a little bit like having friends everywhere I go. It’s a little bit pathetic… But it also allows me to appreciate the moments/interactions/opportunities that so many people overlook.

This post isn’t really about my birthday, or what I did or didn’t do for it. It’s about loneliness. It’s about appreciating the little things. It’s about being happy as all get out for the beautiful things you have, and you have so many.

I have a family who makes cake for a 22 year old. I have friends in every coffee bar and mountaineering store across the nation, and so do you, if you want to.



Why I Need to Love Myself, OR Why I’m Single and Happy About It

I haven’t been in an even remotely serious relationship in well over a year, and it’s been months since I’ve had any interest in a guy. Things have been going well. I’ve been focusing on myself, and on the things that make me a happier, more productive, and healthier person. I’ve been more content with myself than I have in years, and I don’t want anything, especially a boy, to come in the way of that.

To put it simply, relationships are toxic to me. Or rather, I am toxic to myself whenever I begin to show interest in someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated some great (and not-so-great) guys. I love having someone to open up to, to keep me warm at night, and to see on the weekends. I love the warmth that comes along with having a powerful, mutual relationship with someone. I love kissing. I love focusing intently on someone who isn’t me. But that’s exactly what hurts me.

When I begin to focus on someone new, I forget about myself. At least, I forget how to make myself happy. I put all my energy into him. I compare my standards of happiness to his. When he hangs out with his buddies on the weekends, I obsess over how few friends I have. When he goes golfing every Tuesday evening, I dwell on how pathetic it must seem that I spend every night at home with my books. I begin to look for ways to make my life appear more interesting; not just to him, but to myself as well.

I spend a lot of time alone. I am content this way. I enjoy spending my evenings with books instead of coworkers. I like having Sundays to myself to write blog posts and poetry. I like going out too… I like it a lot. But an evening at a bar is a rare treat for me, not a weekly occurrence. And the friends I spend time with are important to me, but they aren’t lifelong girlfriends that I share everything with, they are a random slew of guy friends that are great for joking around and playing foosball with. But if I want to go to Victoria’s Secret or spend the night in bed with a marathon of romantic comedies, you can bet I’m doing it alone.

The thing is, I simply don’t have the type of familial friend group that every guy I date inevitably has, and it makes me sad. It makes me forget that I enjoy my time alone. It makes me forget that I sleep easier when I’ve had a productive day of writing, or that a night of partying with friends nearly always ends in regret.

Let me be clear: The boys aren’t the problem. I am. And I accept that the reason I haven’t found a healthy relationship is because I’m not content enough with myself to begin focusing on someone else. I used to think that focusing on me was selfish, but finding self-love is truly the best thing I can do for those around me. I can’t begin to make another person happy, until I’m happy with myself. And I can’t expect anyone else to make me happy either… I have to be the one to find that joy.

If an amazing guy falls into my lap tomorrow (heh), I’m not saying I won’t pursue it… But I know that I have to be realistic about my expectations, and that I have to focus on my own happiness before anyone else’s, no matter how selfish self-love-obsessed (wut. i dunno) that may seem.