"Nobody likes you when you're 23."

23 is a random age to be, just as will be all the ages that aren't 25, 65, or multiples of 10. But we'll go with it.

Sometime around lunchtime 23 years ago today, my mother miraculously brought me out of the womb and into the world. Miraculously because here of a 5'3'' woman who probably hasn't weighed over 110 pounds since she was pregnant with me pushing a 7 pound, 11 ounce baby out of her uterus, but also miraculously in the hippier "generating life" sense, adding her +1 to the party on Earth. 

I was asked recently what my birthday means to me. And I said, "my birthday means being loved."

I think I'm as guilty as any girl (since I believe girls tend to do this more than boys) for having celebrated birthdays with the hope (or worse, expectation) that people from all parts of my life, past and present, will wish me the best, celebrate my being in their lives, and so on. The day of and the days leading up to the birthday are filled with posts on Facebook, drinks at bars, delicious meals, and sometimes deeply thoughtful gifts*, and other expressions of "Congratulations for continuing to exist."

Until this year, I saw my birthday as proof of being loved and appreciated by other people. I'd get secretly upset when people forgot about it or if close friends wouldn't get me a gift, let alone write me a card. I craved the actions of others to affirm that I was worthy: of their friendship, of this world, all of it. 

I still stand by the answer, "my birthday means being loved." But I realized today that for many years I had been interpreting this problematically as "my birthday means being loved by others." I never considered another interpretation, perhaps a more important one: "my birthday means being loved by me." And that's my homework assignment for year 23--really and finally getting to the place where I unconditionally love myself. Birthday or not, I should be celebrating myself everyday (again in the hippie sense--no narcissism here). 

Today, part of celebrating myself is celebrating you for being here in my life today.

Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me by reading this post.

I hope I make your world a better place.