It seems the older I get the more I hear people complain about their birthdays and ages a lot. When someone wishes them a Happy Birthday the response is usually a grimace with a murmured thanks. In reality, though, we should all be thankful and blessed that another year has rolled around for us. Age means you’ve experienced yet another year of good and bad, and lived through them all. What a wonderful accomplishment!
I turn 23 today, and I thought it would be interesting to briefly take a look back over my 23 years and see how my life has evolved to the state it is today.
(I’ll do this in five year increments.)
Newborn Ashley (1991): I was born in Small Country Michigan and lived in a black-shuttered white house with my mom, dad, and miniature schnauzer, Grace. My room was decorated in Baby Disney, my hair was so light I appeared bald, and I only fell asleep after a few car trips around the neighborhood.
5YO Ashley (1996): My parents had decided I was such a perfect child that they stopped with me. I began learning at a local Lutheran elementary school and was known for my creativity. I still lived in the same house, but it was now gray and had burgundy shutters. I had a young boxer named Abby who was my best friend, and a few human friends around my neighborhood with whom I played. I had few responsibilities or worries.
10YO Ashley (2001): Just a month after 9/11, the world was still on high alert to the dangers within it. As a studious student, I became one to do much research and learned more on my own than in class. Harry Potter was my favorite book. Grace had passed away and we had gotten another little nugget named Jazz, as well as a calico named Noah; Abby and Jazz were our best dogs ever. My closest friends remained my neighbor and some girls in my class, but I was more of an introvert and liked to read. I wanted to be an architect when I grew up.
15YO Ashley (2006): I had just begun high school. Ten of the same peers who I had gone to kindergarten with were part of my freshman class. Our class was the largest in ten years for the school with 40 students. I focused on my studies as well as playing sports, which included soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I threw myself into a new circle of friends, specifically four girls who didn’t seem to belong to any one clique. I didn’t find myself interested in dating, but that may be because half the guys in my class I had known for the majority of my life. I was waiting for another year so I could finally have my license.
20YO Ashley (2011): It is crazy to think how much had changed in these short five years! I had graduated high school second in my class, already finished my freshman year of college, transferred universities, and been dating my high school sweetheart for a year and a half. I had lost touch with pretty much my entire high school class, give a person here or there, and my friendship circle was pretty small. I was floating through life without much aim. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career, so I was taking general education courses.
22YO Ashley (2013): I was banking on only two more semesters of schooling until graduation, but wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. My goal was to become a grant writer for a nonprofit somewhere in the world (it was more focused than my sophomore year!) I had just begun working at my winery, was commuting to school from my parents’ house, and still driving my Jeep from high school. My friends had expanded a bit further from just my boyfriend (who was actually my fiance by this time), but I still didn’t have anyone very close. I was reaching out and becoming more involved at school though, especially with three organizations on campus in which I took roles of leadership. I was tired of schooling, and was focusing my efforts more on wedding planning than anything else. I had hardly any worries, other than my piling up school debt and what seemed at the time small relationship problems.
23YO Ashley (2014): I am working two jobs which I absolutely adore, one full time and the other once a week. I ended up graduating on time after a semester of working two jobs, an internship, and 24 credits. Somehow I survived that workload on top of a broken engagement. I have a lot of friends now, all of whom I love and cherish. My two dearest friends I did not even know a year ago. I now talk to numerous people from high school, most of whom I never associated with while actually in class. I am beginning a new relationship with someone completely new in my life, and I feel happier than I have ever been. I bought my first big purchase, a brand new car. I’m still at my parents but for the most part we get along fine. I’m not sure how life could be any better right now.
Time sure seems to go by so fast right now Every night I think about how quickly the day flew and it amazes me. I might have worries one day, but they also fly by. I always know there are people looking out for me and people who truly care, so my worries fade pretty quick. All I can do for now is smile and appreciate every experience I get to have throughout every year of my life.
On a whole separate note: thank you for all the birthday wishes, friends and family, I appreciate you all so much!!