Some of you know—most of you don’t—that I turned 25 on July 2nd. As momentous as the math would seem—a quarter of a century, the square root of five, a number whose digits add up to seven—the whole affair turned into a bit of a letdown.

I had high hopes. Despite moving to a new city as a solitary unit, I’ve been optimistic recently that I’m finally starting to get it. I have new friends—work-friends, but friends, I insist; I have places I like to go; I have started to like myself. In light of these momentous advances in personal happiness, I genuinely expected to enjoy my birthday, but something dark and cloudy descended on my mood, and I balked. Let’s be honest: the day was rough.

It started with tears, which were followed by lines at the DMV. The sun poked through my spirits when I baked a cake and some vegan cookies to bring into my friends at work. An onslaught of curt birthday messages on social media were like arrows to my lonely heart, and then I scolded myself for being so ungrateful. People asked me if I had plans. The answer was no. I didn’t understand the questions were an invitation to make some. I went home and wrapped myself in the warmth of the few cards and packages I received in the mail, and I tried not to feel like a failure.

“Someday,” I opined. “Someday I’ll find my social agency, and I won’t be so afraid to ask people to love me. Someday, I’ll feel like I’m worth it.”

I don’t want anyone to feel like their Facebook notes and texts were unappreciated. You all mean the world to me, but sometimes the mental clouds are just that impenetrable. I’m fine now. I’m happy now. So, it’s time to celebrate a different birthday.

Call it a second chance. I was browsing my Facebook memories (this is a new daily reminder I get—my inner historian rejoices), and I discovered that my blog—this blog—is officially three years old! Like an actual child, this blog came into the world screaming. It was all tears and helplessness, but there was a nascent sense of self forming just below all the noise. My blog learned to talk, then it learned to walk. Now, it runs—on thoughts and experience, it runs like clockwork. I have found my voice.

(Who knows what I will think about my recent entries in three more years, but, for now and for once, I feel like I’m actually saying something.)

To celebrate my growth, I thought I’d take a look back. There was a time, not too long ago, that I couldn’t see past heartache and disappointment. There was a time, not too long ago, that I couldn’t write a resume or use a microfilm machine. A lot has happened in three years, and here are some blog posts to prove it.

July 2012: My blog begins with a name and a quote, both from Alcuin by Charles Brockden Brown, a source that featured heavily in my senior thesis research. I lamented my inability to function in the real world. I started a blog to document this experiment. Growing pains ensued. (No link, because the post embarrasses me. But the quote is awesome.)

If they generously admit me into the class of existences, but affirm that I exist for no purpose but the convenience of the more dignified sex, that I cannot be entrusted with the government of myself: that to foresee, to deliberate and decide belongs to others, while all my duties resolve themselves into this precept, ‘listen and obey;’ it is not for me to smile at their tyranny, or receive as my gospel, a code built upon such atrocious maxims. No, I am not a Federalist.

July 25, 2012: That summer, my heart broke, but I also met and hugged a personal hero of mine. There’s nothing quite like Josh Ritter telling you it will all work out in the end. I’m still carrying those endorphins with me.


December 5, 2012: A tribute to bowling, which has more to do with real life than one would expect. Thanks to a mentor, Tom Reid, for introducing me to a new way to untangle my problems.

December 19, 2012: I was working in a burrito restaurant at time when it seemed like all my other friends had “real” jobs. Despite the worry I was falling behind, I loved my job and all the weird smells, late nights, and rough edges that came with it.

Killarney Nat'l Park - Killarney, Co. Kerry, IRL - October 2012

Killarney Nat’l Park – Killarney, Co. Kerry, IRL – October 2012 – I also went to Ireland at some point in 2012. The entry was boring, but this photo is lovely, so it stays.

February 8, 2013: I was starting to settle into my new life in northeast Ohio, but I still had to remind myself to let go and enjoy it. A short letter to hold onto in dark times.

August 19, 2013: I was accepted into the AmeriCorps program with the Ohio History Corps and the Oberlin Heritage Center, and embarked on a journey that would bring me even closer to the little town I loved. A brief statement on why museum work and local history matter.

December 25, 2013: Learning broadens your horizons, connects you to stories you never knew existed, and sheds light on past experiences. Commentary on a documentary and how I found feminism.

March 12, 2014: When life goes too fast, there’s nothing like developing a roll of film to help you slow down. A series of images and a tribute to my darling Minolta camera.

stuff 2

March 30, 2014: In the same vein, a description of why letters are so important and why I keep all of them.

December 27, 2014: This past December, I left a job and people I loved, so I wrote a fictional account of a year in the life of my Hale Farm character(s).

February 9, 2015: I am a binge-watcher, and sometimes this changes the way I see the world. A particularly in-depth analysis of one aspect of a show I absolutely adore, and an issue that hits home.

PicMonkey Collage

These posts aren’t exactly the best representation of my blog over the years. I’ve left out the entries that feel too maudlin in retrospect, or that are still too personal. I’ve also avoided the more recent, since they haven’t yet been lost to time. Instead, this is a Parade of Champions—of posts I’m proud of, that say something about me and my journey, that remind me I can achieve.

I won’t make this entry much longer, in the hopes that you can find the time to read one or two of the links above. I’ll only say this: thank you for being my friends, for following this blog with its ups and downs and in-betweens, and thank you for all the kind birthday wishes.


2 thoughts on “Birthdays

  1. I loved this entry – very vulnerable and surprisingly optimistic. There’s nothing like a good blog entry from Jen Graham to make me think about thinking again. Thank you.

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