Saturday, July 9, 2016

One Fourth Done

I try not to delve into personal matters on this platform, and I promise to not let this happen often, but I figured this is a pivotal point in my life and I should open up in case others feel similar ways about growing older. I want to be transparent about my insecurity with my age and my failure to measure up to the goals I set for myself and my career because I think we all glamorize what our lives actually are like. Like most people, I only present the positive aspects of myself online. You guys get to see the fun projects I am working on only when I choose to show you the fun projects I am working on. I don't post the tedious, frustrating freelance projects that are totally not my ~style~ that I'm totally not proud of (but that pay the bills) because I don't want you guys to see that stuff. You guys don't get to see all the ripped out sketchbook pages and all the hours I sit at my make-shift desk beating myself up for not being original or talented enough. That's just gross. I don't need anyone to pity myself as much as I already do. I don't want to be defined by that.

The point is, we are all so much more than the 2D, filtered version we post online. Our Instagrammed versions of ourselves are so colorful and perfectly cropped that you don't get to see the stained, hole-y sweatpants that are our actual lives. I love sweatpants! I love their comfortable practicability. I love the awkward, uncomfortable shame we feel when we wear them outside of the house- out of our comfort zone. I'm actually talking about my love for lounge wear while also talking about revealing vulnerable truths about our secret selves. Get it guys? C'mon. I was almost a nonfiction minor in college, metaphors are my bitches.

Just kidding, I dropped out of my writing classes because my classmates and teachers thought I was too depressing BUT I truly do love investigating why we are all the way we are. Why we see the world in whatever color glasses we chose to wear. Below is a little bit about myself that may explain better about who I am as a creative agent and as a regular old human being.

On the 4th of July, I turned 25 and I'm officially 1/4th of a century old. Ew. My. God.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with my birthday. They seemed magical when I was young (and when I thought the fireworks were for me) but as I got older, they felt way less special because I guess I realized I was way less special. That's how it is when your birthday is on a holiday. It's not really YOUR day, it's everyone's. It's not about you, it's about other peoples fun vacations and family gatherings and parties. And that's okay! That's how it should be! It never felt right to dictate what people should do on their day off just because I was born however many years ago that same day.

Independence Day is just like any other day of the year to a wrinkly, unborn baby who doesn't understand that the 4th of July is a drunkenly fun, sweaty holiday. I feel like I should make that clear because unborn baby Danielle didn't really choose to pop out with fireworks. A lot of people "oooooh" and "ahhhhh" about my birth date. A lot more people think I'm making it up- hospitals obviously don't deliver babies on national holidays! Absurd! And a few select call me "a little firecracker" or "Ms. Independence" or some other blush worthy nickname. Acquaintances comment that it's great to be born on a holiday because they'll always remember that that is my day. Awh, cute. But not the actual case, homies.

Although all the important people in my life remember my date of birth, a lot of people I wish did, don't. They are too busy entering hot dog eating contests or slurping watermelon slices or wearing patriotic clothing. My entrance into this Earthly whelm slips their mind because they are having so much fun celebrating America's freedom and enjoying their 3 day weekend and I'm honestly totally fine with that. It's nice that my DOB is associated with a carefree, glutinous day of the year. And no matter how much I try to deny that my birth date has any impact on who I actually am, it totally, completely does.

As a stubbornly firm believer of zodiac signs and astrology and personalities sculpted by the stars, I relish the idea that I have no control of who I am. That sounds bad but what I mean is that I love that I'm a crabby Cancer sign that hides in her shell of her home, who is protective over the ones that she loves, who puts up a hard exterior but is mushy, overly compassionate and sentimental as all hell deep down. I love that my best friend was born a day before me and my father was born a week after. I love that I'm surrounded by people who possess the same personality traits as me and understand who I am without really trying. And at the same time, it's hard. When more outgoing, loud, extroverted people don't get why I need to stay home and unwind after a day of work or socializing, I'm seen as boring or not fun. (I am both, but can't a girl have the benefit of some mystery?) When I am rerunning seemingly meaningless conversations in my head days after they happen, people say I'm obsessive or crazy but don't notice that I just really, really care about everyone I interact with. When people say I'm "short with them" or overly sarcastic, or just plain mean (LOL!) they don't see it as a defense mechanism to protect my overly sensitive self. I'm not complicated, I'm a textbook Cancer.

And since I'm overly analytical and "in my head" too much, I am hard on myself. I am no doubt a totally imperfect person. And I am no doubt my own, least favorite fan. But by not liking myself, I can motivate myself to be better than what I currently am. It's a tough pill to swallow when you're older than you ever thought you'd live to be. I never imagined being alive in my mid-twenties so picturing what I should be is really hard. I can only compare myself to the people who surround me and the people who surround me are really great, and really successful. Growing older and hitting "landmark" birthdays when you are no where as stable as your loved ones is just... annoying. I don't feel like celebrating my birth when I feel like I haven't accomplished anything worth celebrating. Everyone says age doesn't matter, but everyone also asks how old you are. And they automatically judge where you are in life and how successful you are based on their expectations and own experiences. It's human nature. We make life a competition and nobody wants a loser on their relay team.

I am a work in progress and I am a mess of puzzle pieces that are soggy and don't fit together. I am 25 now and I am trying not to barf every time I say that out loud. I am trying to let go of other people's expectations for myself and trying to make up my own to live up to. I am not defined by my age, my resume or where I have lived. 

Although I may hate my birthday and hate growing older, I am forever grateful that I was born on a day that celebrates independence. A day where we stood strong even though we stood alone. I don't like being held to expectations but I think it has set a nice precedent for my life.

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