Recently, I’ve had the honor of being able to spend my first birthday away from home. These past 18 years have seen many, many parties, from the typical princess party to the wild and crazy party at Chuck E Cheese’s. Most recently, this celebration of my 19th year was much simpler than my parties of the past; back then, I wouldn’t be satisfied unless there were pony rides, a bounce house, and a double-tiered cake, for good measure.
The first thing that struck me about celebrating my birthday while my family was so far away was the fact that, rather than waking up to a home-cooked birthday dinner or my little sisters blowing party horns in my face, I instead woke up to nothing but sunshine and the usual noise that happens on a typical college weekend. No party horns, no mom’s special pancakes, and most certainly, no shouts of “Happy Birthday.” My roommate was out for the day, but would return that night to help me celebrate. Otherwise? It was just another day in college.
I had already planned how I wanted to celebrate: 10 of my closest friends, a good dinner, and a movie. That was just about all there was to it. For once in my lifetime, I wasn’t looking forward to presents or pony rides; I was looking forward to a good time with my friends, a delicious dinner at a restaurant my roommate had taught me to love, and a wonderful night out in general. In fact, it is almost too easy to describe how typical my day started out: I got breakfast at the SLP, before breaking out my textbooks and studying until 5:30, when my friends came to pick me up and drive to the Fashion Valley Mall.
Celebrating my first birthday without my parents there to spoil me and cater a party was something else altogether. I was mindful of how different everything felt, especially when I realized that I would, most likely, not get a huge cake or a million presents this year. But strangely, I was okay with that. After all, you can only want so much in this world, and in the end, you begin to realize that a good time with people that you love and care for is worth more than every present and piece of cake you could have received over your past birthdays.
My family and I video chatted later that night. They wished me a happy birthday, as was customary, but did little else. No cake, no presents. Just them. And that meant more to me than all of my past birthdays combined. There is something very humbling and maturing that accompanies your transition into college. It puts all of your parents’ hard work, all of those good times you had in years long pass into perspective. You’re growing up, away from your parents’ watchful eye, and if you play your cards right, you’ll become something they could never be more proud of.
I look forward to all of my future birthdays at USD. If my 19th birthday was “The Best Birthday Ever,” then I can’t wait to see what my 20th will bring.