Everyone I know dreads getting old. It’s like they think that adding another year to your age makes them unqualified to do the things they once did. I guess I subscribed to that notion, until this year.
As most of you know I moved 1,000 miles to take this job, away from my family, my friends, and everything familiar to me. Over the past year I have met plenty of people and have done my best to fit in in Paducah, even though it is painfully blatant that I am an out-of-towner. No matter how much I fought it, the people here are so welcoming and helpful that Paducah has become a home to me, and never was it more evident than during this past week.
This week I turned 24. It was my first birthday in Kentucky, without the people I grew up having birthdays with and without the traditions I have grown so accustomed to. To be honest, I was afraid. I was scared I would be lonely, that it would be horrible, and that people wouldn’t even notice it was my day.
Instead, I was completely surprised.
The weekend before, I went out to the usual Paducah hot spots and had friends and acquaintances and friends of friends buy me drinks, wish me a happy birthday, and give me a hug. The day of, I had a seemingly endless supply of cards, embarrassing balloon displays, and a birthday dinner that rivaled the fun I had in college. I got happy birthday wishes from basically everyone I had ever written about. It wasn’t ever just a happy birthday, it was a note that made me truly feel like I mattered.
I went to bed that night feeling silly. When have I ever hesitated to ask friends to go out? When did getting a huge balloon display that rivaled the old man’s balloons from “Up” embarrass me? When did I start thinking I was too old.
On my 24th birthday I learned a lesson, and it wasn’t this great moral victory or moment of enlightenment that everyone described. It was simple: Don’t be afraid to celebrate.
Don’t be afraid to be happy or have fun. We will never be too old. An accomplishment as simple as making it another year in this crazy world is enough to go have fun. Take time to laugh. Take even more time to appreciate the people around you. Even on the worst days, there is some kind of silver lining.
So go out. Have a nice dinner. Toast to a promotion, a good day at the gym, or just making it through another work unscathed. It’s about smiling and taking the world off your shoulders for just a couple hours. When you get home those cares and troubles may come back, but it’s the times that you laugh the hardest or revel in your support system that gets you through to the next time you can celebrate.
Call Corianne Egan, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.