They warned us as we ended our mission trip. They told us to prepare for outrage and attack from the enemy after we did a good thing for The Lord. They left out the fact that the devil takes no days off. Not even for your birthday. So it was sort of a shock when I woke up on the 16th of July, certain that if I could slip out of this world without hurting anyone else, I would. I ruminated on this notion all morning long, perturbed that it would be impossible to take my own life without ruining someone else’s.
But I survived that day, taking it step by step, breath by breath, blow by blow. Here are 12 ways to stay alive on your 25th birthday.
- Answer. The phone will ring. Over and over and over again. Sometimes it’s the small talkers, other times it’s the friends you’ve known for 15 years, still other times it’s the ones whom you want to avoid because they can hear the slightest pin drop of sadness in your voice. They all love you enough to call on your birthday. Answer the phone.
- Hide your pain in plain sight. Be open about your struggle. Be truthful about your lack of enthusiasm. The more people watching, the less likely you are to slip…on a knife.
- Cry all the tears. Cry because the thought of getting out of bed and into the car is almost as heavy as the weight on your chest. Cry because you can’t do what you want to do. Cry because you know deep down inside that you matter to so many people that you could never be so selfish. Cry because you have great friends. Cry because so many people think you’re so great and talented and gifted that they can’t see beyond that. Cry because being intentional about being positive feels impossible, but you’re going to try to move this mountain.
- Save it. You don’t have enough energy to do it for the ‘gram. Don’t bother with a birthday post. Don’t bother with a twenty-fine selfie. Save your last spark to text your friend back and tell her you changed your mind.
- Go. Leave the bed. Make believe the mattress is your day and smooth the wrinkles in the duvet with intention. Tell your friend you’re on the way. Then go.
- Primp. Polish those nails the color f the sun. Brush that hair. Add a little bow. Put on some polka dots. When you look good, you feel good. It’s science, and you’ll need every bit of belief, from faith to science, to pull you through the day.
- Know when to leave. You lack what it takes to be a supportive, celebratory friend. When you feel that your mood is polluting the vibe, zip your bags and excuse yourself. Run.
- Know when to return. Listen to your gut. Drop your pride in the lobby and go back. Sob. Accept the hug.
- Write. Write this down right now. Write all of the bad things you’re feeling. Then write yourself a reminder to write the good things, too. The times when you can’t believe you ever felt this awful. Paste those reminders in plain sight.
- Listen for the echoes. Your good friends will throw your best lines back in your face. Often. Your friend says the exact same thing you told yourself exactly one year ago today. She and past you are onto something. No one robs an empty house. At the end of this day and all days you have to be intentional about staying up.
- Fight. Fight the urge to choke the rude hellion complaining across your cake. Then fight anyone holding you back from attacking her. Then fight everyone who threatens your sister. Fight the urge to make them pay for ruining your birthday. Then fight the urge to declare yourself defeated. Fight for your joy. Fight for your future. Fight and fight and fight.
- Be grateful. Be grateful that you made it, that you weren’t enticed by those sleeping pills and that none of those other options seemed realistic. Be grateful that the people who were supposed to show up, didn’t and thus missed the hot mess of a birthday brawl. Be grateful for the ones who did show up, the ones who were there to hold you back and pick you up and pin you down when things got wild. Most of all, be grateful that it’s over. That you started 25 with a mountain of a midnight so you’re already prepared for the year to come.
It’s looking like 25 is the year of doing good, being real, and straight up surviving. Cheers to me and mine! If 25 is a battle, I intend to win. I’m here. And I’m not going anywhere.