Three days ago, August 27, I was at a Taylor Swift concert with my two best friends, singing along and dancing in and out of my chair. I would’ve went all-out like that even if it were any other day, but there was something extra special about that night, especially yelling out the lyrics “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”
Although those lyrics are from the song 22, I felt the same way at that moment, on my first night as a 25-year-old. Since 2013 began, I had a mixed mindset about hitting this life milestone—excited for new opportunities but scared. Scared that I would not live up to be the person I wanted to be at that age. Five years ago, I imagined meeting 25-year-old me. She was living in a trendy apartment in LA and living the dream as a full-time entertainment reporter, driving a cool car and being in a solid relationship with a man who was just as awesome and ambitious as she was.
But I guess that 25-year-old is actually a 27-year-old, maybe 30 or 35. When I woke up on Tuesday, I was heading to my job as an operations/customer support specialist in Internet retail from my parents’ house, the same one I’ve lived in since my freshman year of high school ended ten years ago. I walked to the BART station because I still haven’t gone behind the wheel of a car since I barely passed my driver’s test two years ago and the evening before, I was with a wonderful man, but someone I’ve only seen about every other week in the past couple of months.
I didn’t think I would still be planted on the ground as I approached 25. I had thought that as that birthday hit, I would have soared and be that version of myself that I had imagined. And I’ve spent too much time crying, worrying, being angry and frustrated that I couldn’t even be a fraction of her. I wanted so badly to be able to get that full-time journalism/media gig that would help me move out of my house, fulfill my passions, and make me feel like I finally had a place in the world I was living in and every time I got close, it turned out that I had fallen five steps back.
Sometime last Wednesday, another one of those letdowns had happened. I let myself be sad for that day, but the weekend was near and that only meant that the 25th birthday celebration I had been planning since July was going to play itself out. But I had no idea who was going to show up and if my sister, cousin, and closest friends were even going to get along with my more casual acquaintances and co-workers.
But it was there at the main lounge/bar and Peroni room at Pandora Karaoke that Saturday where I had my most favorite “official” birthday celebration of my life so far. We donned Minnie ears, feather boas, sunglasses, stupid hats, and tiaras while we entertained each other by singing (Or more like screaming) along to songs like Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” Spice Girls‘ “Wannabe,” Backstreet Boys‘ “I Want it That Way,” Journey‘s “Don’t Stop Believing,” Rick Astley‘s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” Miley Cyrus‘ “Party in the USA,” and even Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz‘ “Get Low” as we made fun of any stupid video that wasn’t the original music video. We had an Adam Levine and a Lenny Kravitz in our room, but I wasn’t the one who established that, so don’t ask me. Aside from the singing and the drinking, what I loved most was that everyone did get along. Friends caught up with friends they haven’t seen in a while and making friends with people they were just meeting for the first time ever. A drunken three-and-a-half-hour karaoke marathon was where I counted the blessing that I truly do have the most incredible, fun, hilarious, loving, and supportive people in my life.
There were a few people who expressed their regrets that they could not make it for Saturday’s celebration, including the man friend. Instead, on Monday evening before my actual birthday, he took me to The Franciscan on Pier 43 1/2 at Fisherman’s Wharf. There we shared a bottle of wine and a couple of pounds of crab—yup, we wore bibs and had moist towelettes at our table! I guess he must have told the wait staff it was my birthday, because they came out with the chocolate truffle cake I was eying for dessert, with a candle! As if that wasn’t date-y enough, we went across the street to the Gold Dust Lounge for more drinks, and he asked the live band to play Happy Birthday and The Beatles Birthday Song for me (We danced like fools to that second one, and we were the only ones on that floor). I don’t know what superlative is after perfect, but whatever it is, I would use that word to describe that night.
And as mentioned previously, my actual birthday was spent with my two best friends, thousands of screaming fans, and the one superwoman of an artist and performer known as Taylor Swift (And her rockin’ opening acts Casey James and Ed Sheeran) two hours away in Sacramento. As the color in the Red Tour would imply, the show was fiery, passionate, and burning with energy, joy, and love. Performing songs off of her latest album Red as well as older hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” paired with stunning production and visuals, an exciting surprise arrived in the form of Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, who performed “The Last Time” with Taylor live for the first time (I know, how ironic!) ever. Yup, that night, I turned 25 but kept on dancing like I’m 22.
This crazy new chapter in my life will be “miserable and magical, oh yeah.” But with all the memories I made these past few nights, every ounce of pain from the past and anxiety about the future melted away. Living in those moments, all I felt was love—love from people I’ve known for my entire life, for many years, for a couple of years, and just a few months. In those three days I celebrated, every problem and every fear I had evaporated. I can’t recall any other days in recent history where I felt so carefree yet completely in love with and so deeply grateful for everything and everyone I had in the now. I think that is one thing I need to do more often in entering this new age.
Thank you so much to everyone who was a part of those three days, and thank you to everyone who kept me in their thoughts and sent me well-wishes for my birthday. Those three days may be over but the beginning of a new story is just waiting to be told. I look forward to writing those pages and sharing them with all of you.
(PHOTO CREDITS: Karen Datangel [Confetti] / My Instagram [25th Birthday Bash, Birthday Date] / My Flickr [Taylor Swift at the Red Tour])