Last week, I celebrated my 33rd birthday. Did I celebrate with a wild and crazy party that had the neighbors calling the police? Nope. I celebrated the occasion by seeing Maleficent and having dinner with friends the weekend before my birthday and seeing my niece perform “Let it Go” at her school’s choir/band performance on the night of my birthday. Both of which were amazing, by the way.
At any rate, celebrating another year of living on Planet Earth has got me thinking about how I have changed in the last decade or so. I realized that there are quite a few things I have come to understand since turning 30 a few years ago, and these epiphanies have brought me a lot of peace and happiness with my life.
1. You don’t HAVE to go out on the weekend just because it’s the weekend. When I was in college, I remember have minor freak outs if I didn’t have something amazing to do on the weekends. I would occasionally find myself sinking into despair if I heard about people going to parties that I wasn’t invited to. Now, I am just as content to binge watch old episodes of Three’s Company (my favorite is the one where there’s some kind of misunderstanding) or catching up on Blue Bloods as I am going out to a bar or club with friends. I no longer feel like less of a person because I’m not going out on a Friday or Saturday night.
2. It’s okay to like things that other people don’t think are cool. I will freely admit it: I still love New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys. I have a Donnie Wahlberg sticker on my car, and I drive it with pride. I had 8th row seats to the last BSB show, and I couldn’t have had more fun (well, maybe if Nick Carter had given me a rose or kissed my hand or something). There was a time I would never have admitted to loving something like a boy band because I would have been too embarrassed to face other people’s judgments. Nowadays, most of my friends think that NKOTB and BSB are pretty lame, and that’s completely okay with me. They don’t get it, and they don’t have to. I’m going to like what I like, regardless of whether other people judge it as “cool.”
3. My weight does not define who I am. I spent many years hating my body. When I was in college, I was a size 6, and I thought that was too big. I wore a size S shirt, and I wished that I could grab the XS off the rack. I wanted desperately to be a size 2 or 4. Later on, when health issues caused me to actually become that “ideal” size, I found that I did not like myself any more just because I was skinny. Being a size 2 did not magically improve my life. When my health problems got resolved, I ended up being what I consider is a pretty healthy size 12. I have come to appreciate my curves and end the constant war with my body. My weight is not who I am.
4. It’s cool and fun to sometimes do things alone and be independent! You know what I find to be fun? Seeing a movie on my own! In the past, I would worry that people would look at me and pity the lonely women who’s all on her own. However, now I love just going to a movie solo, picking where I want to sit, and immersing myself in the theater experience. I have flown to Florida numerous times to see my grandparents, and I loved walking down to the beach or the boardwalk on my own, playing in the surf and browsing the cute boutiques. When my friend’s band plays, I don’t particularly care if I can’t convince anyone to go with me. Independence, after all, is what everyone should strive for.
Caitlin Kurvink is a high school English teacher in Southern California. In her spare time, she loves reading YA novels, listening to boy band music, and exploring other “nerdy” pursuits.