Birthday Suit

The 20s are all about celebrating how far you've come. Every year your birthday comes around and just like that (okay maybe not instantaneously) you've aged. I'm another year older today making me a full 21 years of age. Like how and when did I get so old. The past few years have not only flown by but they've also dragged on, like some kind of wrinkle in time (never understood that book or movie). Either way, I'm here. I'm alive and well. I'm about to be a SENIOR in college on the verge of the rest of my life. I'm supported by a family that loves me unconditionally. I'm secure in most of my friendships and coming to terms with the immaturity of others. I'm a not-quite so grown up but I'm making it work. This is my birthday suit.
In writing this post I took a glance back at all my prior birthday posts (check them out here: 20th 19th 18th). Wow, so much has changed over the past three years. Who I was when I started my college experience and this blog are nowhere near the person I am now. The way I carry myself, how I speak, and most importantly how I interact with other people (intentionally conscious) has progressed significantly. It's so funny to reread them and see how what I've wanted hasn't changed at all. You don't want to hear about all the logistical stuff on my birthday, you want to hear about me, right? This is my one "get out jail free" pass (electronic Monopoly is my ish) to run wild for a day/night, right - isn't that how it goes on this one? Well I bet this one will be lowkey since it's my first one away from home and particularly my sister (I guess excluding the 3 years I lived without her #awk). Having a summer birthday means it's forgettable and that's messed up on so many levels. That's like saying that someone isn't important or that they don't matter. Newsflash, everyone has value; EVERYONE matters. What I'm looking for is an outpouring of honest to goodness emotion, fondness, affection and love. I want people to be vulnerable and tell me how they feel about me. I challenge people to do so. I want to down an ice cold glass of ginger ale and call it a night. I want to hear from those who matter to me most. I want to be in my birthday suit and just relish in MY day to be the center of attention - for once.

One of the things that truly irks me is when people ask me what I want for my birthday. That's just lazy. My life is literally an open book (uhm I have a blog that chronicles it with some shockingly personal honesty). The rest of it is showcased for the world to see via social media (probably shouldn't be so public but I'm a millennial sue me). Please try at least a bit to pretend to care. I pride myself on being a phenomenal gift giver - just calculated and this past year I've spent over $450 on birthday gifts for my friends total (sometimes I wish I weren't so damn thoughtful). I take the time and effort to learn what people like, what they don't have and what will mean the most to them. My favorite thing is watching people's reactions to opening what I put together for them (thank you Amazon prime - 2 day shipping > everything) - please take of the presentation of bagging or wrapping ... it's important. To see someone's face light up in genuine shock and then express their sincere gratitude is what touches my very soul. Seeing other people I guess makes me happy. People always say that you shouldn't get them anything for their birthday, well that's a bold faced lie. You do it anyway. No one wants to have their birthday, THEIR DAY to be the center of everyone's attention, skipped over and present-less. You disregard their wishes and get them something special because even if you love them internally, gift giving an external pronouncement of it. How the hell are is the birthday person supposed to know you even remembered it was their day (facebook wall posts are obligatory, tweets & instagram shoutouts are cool, but a thoughtful text goes a long way; phone call/voicemail is next level stuff though)? For once, be bold in your affection towards someone and put your feelings into action. If you don't know what someone will like that might be a slight indication that you don't know them well enough or that you don't pay attention when they share who they are to you. You could just ask someone what they want and they might tell you. Me personally, I'll tell you exactly what I don't want (anything, what do you buy the perfectly privileged boy who's supposed to have everything ... nothing because all he wants is for people to tell him that they love him) that is surprises or raggedy ass parties. As a prideful perfectionist, if there is a party to be had, you had best let me plan it - it's what I'm good at - and coming home to something for me that wasn't over the top or perfect would absolutely bother me to no end (check my list of favorites and get me some; ginger ale bathe me since I don't drink, buy my favorite movie on DVD, pop some popcorn, get some cake pops, buy some properly color coordinated balloons and leave my door covered in notes ... easy). Keep it simple and just tell me you feel about me, that means more to me than any material item ever can. And if you're one of the 14 people who received a gift from me, know that not you're obligated to get me anything just because I did for you. Giving should come out of the goodness of your heart. This is my birthday suit, watch me wear it well.

Joteng's Favorite Things: (Like Oprah's list except you as my reader get nothing)
Favorites -  Book: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie • Author: C.S. Lewis • Movie: Man of Steel • Song: Jesse McCartney "How Do You Sleep" • Word: Hope • TV Show: Greek • Actor: Jeremy Renner & Chris Evans • Celebrity Crush: AnnaSophia Robb & Keke Palmer • Food: Snow Crab Legs • Snack: Movie Theatre Butter Popcorn • Drink: Canada Dry Ginger Ale • Candy: Red Vines • Dessert: Snickerdoodle cake pops • Clothing Store: Urban Outfitters • Color: Navy Blue • Accessory: Yellow Legal Pad & Black Pen • Things: Clouds, Plaid, Bubbles, Balloons
Hobbies: Tennis, Photography, Graphic Design
Best Gift Ever Received: Handmade 16th Birthday Card from my sister with the lyrics to my favorite song written on it
Things I Worry About Most: Being real; my friends; coordinating clothes

What I've learned over the past year is how to use my voice and to use it effectively. When others are raising theirs, I'm lowering mine. I've learned to control my speech and use it to empower not only myself but others. I've been edified in the ways of conflict resolution and social justice advocacy. I've been able to turn talk into action and distinguish myself as someone willing to stand up and speak out. What I've also come to understand is that you can't change people into who you want them to be. I also realized that not everyone is willing to meet you where you need them to. Letting go of people can be absolutely terrifying but keeping people in your life just to have them there gets you nowhere. If you're not building me up, you're tearing me down and that's not who I need or want in my life. People are who they are unless they, themselves, decide to be someone else. I've seen the importance of vocalizing appreciation and gratitude. Telling and showing people that you value their work and their contributions to the spaces you frequent can be a powerful relationship building. Lastly, I've challenged myself to forgive others without waiting for apologies, to pardon myself, and to wholeheartedly move on. It's been another crazy year. From the best friend visit, to bias incidents, political warfare, monumental programming, jetsetting travels, new brothers, novelty groups, friend introductions, fashion show modeling, class struggles, neverending meetings, shopping sprees, sleepless nights, and all the freaking drama in between, I made it. I believe everything that happens to us and that we do in life has purpose. I hope pray that I am fulfilling my purpose and being the person I'm supposed to be. I wish nothing more than for people to find the love they deserve and peace with who they are. I hope to keep my connections strong and positive. Birthday suit is coming all the way off tonight. Who I was born as and who I am now are two very different people and that's okay. I'm doing 21 my own way. Thanks to all those who were part of my life story this year both as allies and villains, either way I've learned from you and grown my experiences interacting with you. One more year to write the story of my life, wish me luck and pray that I find success and happiness.

My blog post question for the day is ... what's you want to happen in the next year? I think for me, to figure out exactly what I'll be doing for my year off after college would be huge.


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