Yesterday was my 43rd birthday, though not many people were aware as I tend to be pretty secretive about these things.
I realize a lot of people might think it outrageously vain of me to celebrate my birthday with such abandon for [at least] a month. However, there is a clear reason I was born barely after the end of Leo on the zodiac, people - a portion of me really likes being noticed/pampered/applauded/worshipped. Repeatedly.
As an adult, I have decided to embrace most everything about me because the alternative seems sad and boring, for everyone. And, aside from my paralyzing moments of perfectionism, I enjoy trying new things & meeting new people & going different places as much as possible. But this is certainly not how I lived my childhood. Okay, maybe I was always smiling biggest and sitting in front of everyone else in every photo through 1981. Whatever.
In my memories of myself throughout junior high & high school, I was mousey and quiet and didn't make much of an impression. I can specifically remember wishing I were more outgoing, prettier, more fashionable, funnier - but I also specifically recall not speaking up in classes, being inordinately distracted by the state of my hair or the details on my jeans, and keeping my best comedy for only a few close friends. There is a part of me that regrets being afraid to live out loud then, but I am trying not to lament this because there is nothing I can do about it now. I just try to be a confident lover of life and beseech my children & students to please notice/sit by/talk to every one of their classmates at least once, just to be sure they are not overlooking some amazing individual because of that person's insecurity or shyness.
It has been a particular delight getting back in touch with my former classmates at reunions. Some of them have revealed startling facts about my young self - they thought I was funny, that I did have style, that they were certain I must have been part of the popular crowd. But more than these belated compliments, I am overjoyed to watch my own daughter - entering middle school in seven days - be what I always hoped to be. She boldly wears plaid shorts & striped shirts, knee-high zippered sneakers, headbands with giant flowers. My girl kicks ass in track without a thought about her hair and she is the first of her friends to say "Hey" to boys in the hall. When I remark that I'm proud she is willing to do what she wants without worrying about what people think, she gives me a furrowed brow and sideways look as if to say, "Why wouldn't I?"