23rd Birthday

Yay me, one step closing to looking like this:

OldWoman
http://katieverickson.blogspot.com/

But on the reals, the half of me that keeps feeling sorry for me lost out today to the half of me that wants desperately to succeed and is somewhat winning to be happier and look at all the green grass I’m standing in now.

Gratitude

  1. My parents took me out to Korean BBQ, which is actually what I would choose as my last meal.  Sashimi, side dishes, perfect grains of white rice, and KAL BI??  What more can a person want?  ~ pics to come ~
  2. They also are taking me to see my first Broadway show, and it’s Lion King no less, this Sunday!!
  3. My best friend gave me a beautiful handmade card and $100, which I was super reluctant to accept.  But then she explained that this money is going specifically to me buying music software, and that made me feel so happy that someone believes in me so much that they’re willing to encourage me and invest in my skills. :’)
  4. I’m going to let myself splurge a little to reward myself for everyday that I struggle.  After GREs, Lauren and I are finally going to try out that Island Spa.
  5. At my birthday event, whatever that ends up being, hopefully I’ll see a lot of people I just miss, and do something to cross off my bucket list, like Indoor skydiving or going to a shooting range.
  6. My brother called me to wish me a happy birthday even though he’s super swamped with work
  7. My study abroad friends immediately granted my wish to mass Skype them all!  It was such a good feeling. Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 11.24.26 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-25 at 11.04.59 AMI’ve never clicked so easily with a group of people so fast before, even after almost a year on and off of communicating, we pick up right where we left off being dumbasses and laughing and reminiscing.  We’re going to reschedule another one so more people can make the next one 🙂
  8. Even though I feel a bit bummed about close friends not wishing me a happy birthday, I was able to look at the glass half full rather than half empty.  Two years ago, I just kept counting every single person who didn’t wish me well, but this year I was able to shift my focus instead on every single person who took even a few seconds out of their day to say happy birthday.

I now know what older friends have been saying to me in recent years: that once you hit past that 21st mark, each birthday really isn’t exciting anymore.  But 2015 has been generally decent to me, and hopefully my 23 is the same or better.

Highlights of the past year or two:

  1. TCNJ Memories:
    1. Artificial Intelligence/ Etsy seminar / RJ Mitte / Cristina Milioti / Nick Offerman – gave me a lot to think about
    2. Paramore concert- not a particular fan, but was cool to see their live performance regardless
    3. Fondue nights with friends surprising me with late birthday gifts
    4. My lanyard and key turning up randomly, which saved me $50
    5. Eating at a Michelin star restaurant in NYC and visiting the Whitney museum
    6. Morning graduation! Holy shit made it
    7. Teaching me the value of my favorite quote:  “You’re either a Blessing or a Lesson.”  I think Frank Ocean said this. Too true.  Senior year answered and offered me everything I felt I had been missing the previous year.  Friendship, epiphanies, great college professors, more independence, and branching out on new skills I really wanted to gain
  2. Amazing summers:  Taiwan 2014 (of course) and Princeton Chinese Immersion 2015- learning about kids, meeting great people
  3. Venice, Montenegro, and Greece- wow.  Got really sick, but still so beautiful and unforgettable
  4. Working out of my comfort zone at Lindt to develop interpersonal skills and learn about chocolate
  5. Proud of myself this winter for continuing to fight forward in just learning about everything and anything within reach – more on this and new personal goals to be met for the rest of 2016.
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What I Learned in Taiwan

That year had been particularly rough on me, and I remember being on a bus in a desperate attempt to swig away my sorrows at TCNJ Senior Night, texting on a whim confirmation to my parents to sign me up for school in Taipei.  I was and am always hesitant and doubtful of new and scary experiences, but my grief momentarily blinded me from worrying, and it ended up being one of the best. decisions. ever.  Not knowing what to expect, my mom and I hopped on a plane in late May, and our first days of exploring the campus of National Taiwan Normal University excited me endlessly.  My mom finally coped enough to leave me to my independence after two or three weeks, and that week and a half was the funnest ever.  Sure, there were moments where I was so exhausted I was just barely able to move to buy myself dinner, and sure, the dorm’s strict curfew of 11:30pm was annoying, but for the most part, I was content to be able to manage my life without feeling so restricted.  Among the highlights of my trip were:

    1. Visiting my moms’ old friend’s village, which felt like a town in a Miyazaki film.  Her sweet and kindhearted family can COOK.
    2. Meeting up with my TCNJ friend Lauren at Danshui and having the MOST MAGICAL BUBBLE TEA at a cute cafe
    3. Going to Beitou Hot Springs and trying to compete against stolid old people by sitting in boiling water on a 90+ degree summer day- guess whose fingers were prunier?? Yeah, we didn’t win.
    4. Typhoon night where I huddled in my dorm with two yams from 7-Eleven
    5. Attending a 12 Cellos concert, courtesy of my aunt (phenomenal performance) in Kaohsiung
    6. Meeting new people, eating and bonding on mini-trips

During these mini travels, after months of therapy was I able to muster the courage to communicate my needs to new friends.  I tried to mask my shaky confidence as I explained what I needed: their understanding in walking slowly with me because it was hard for me.  I still remember the fear I felt bringing it up to my friend Nio as I walked with him and another guy through the streets, realizing if I didn’t say something soon I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I was tired.  Surprisingly, without blinking or giving me any side look of pity, Nio said “Sure,” slowed down and casually asked me what my condition was.  A heavy weight lifted from my shoulders, and I felt acceptance.  What I learned was that as inconvenient as conditions like mine were and as rare as awesome people are to find, they exist. And sometimes you have to forgive yourself and distinguish yourself from your chronic conditions, and take a leap of faith in opening up.  Recognize that sometimes, you are not the problem.