Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!: A tale of first world problems.

It’s my birthday and many of you have been asking if I have any plans or am doing anything special to celebrate. I can only respond that yes, I am. I am living in Paraguay. This is how I’ve planned to celebrate for a while now.
Birthday present to myself. Now if I could only find Jack Daniels.

I do not believe in New Years resolutions. I firmly believe that if you want to change your life you can start any day of the year. I even remember coming to this realization in my 6th grade Language Arts class with Mrs. Tipps.  Assigned to write down our New Year’s resolutions, it became so clear to my 11 year old self that life need not wait for January. I then turned in a blank page. I swear that I was only half trying to get out of the assignment. Mrs. Tipps then made me write why I felt this way in leu of my resolutions. Stupid, quality teachers, but I digress.

So for the past 15 years I have practiced this belief and defiantly never made resolutions with the exception of this past year. December 31st 2010, I was at a swanky party where the music cranked and booze flowed freely. Everyone was dressed in their NYE finest, and I was wearing a polyester tie. I wasn’t a guest. I was the waiter.  Instead of being surrounded by friends reveling in my youth, I was failing to keep up with orders at the bar and the re-fires of the stuffed mushrooms. What had gone wrong in my life? I, with a University degree in a double major no less, was scraping plates of people I considered intellectually inferior and no one cared. My boss didn’t care how smart I was, so long as I didn’t break any glasses. My co workers didn’t care where I came from so long as I could carry my share of plates. There was no great tragedy here. I wasn’t going through hard times. I was going through normal life. So I found myself at the humbling realization that the world owed me nothing, and that both happiness and success was in fact made, and not found. The highlight of the night was stealing a bottle of champagne with my compatriots and making a midnight toast. Shortly after I looked at my friend and said, “Next year’s gonna be different.”

The next morning I knew what I needed to do. I called my brother and declared that by the time I turn 26, I WILL be living in a Latin American country. Being an expat has been a dream of mine for years, but I always found reasons to stay stateside. It wasn’t going to be like that this time. The commitment was made.

I know that Oliver would let me off the hook, never mentioning my declaration had I failed, if he even remembered, but I wasn’t going to let myself of the hook. Had I celebrated my 26th in Dallas, no matter how great the event, I would have had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Unable to ignore the fact that I had once again made “the safe choice.” There were certainly other cross roads in my journey to Paraguay, but I look back at that night as the turning point.

So here I am at my deadline, and hell, I made it! A  resolution that may appear brash, or made in a moment of depression was exactly what I needed. I am where I need and want to be. I don’t regret taking my sweet time to achieve this dream either. I don’t believe in destiny, but I do not know if I would have been strong enough to get here nor stay here if it had not been for my past experiences. So rather than dwell on the fact that I am now closer to thirty than twenty, I celebrate and give thanks. I am so lucky to even have the option to follow my dreams. I am most thankful for my family, friends and mentors who have all been incredibly supportive. I would not have accomplished anything without you all.

So I am going back into the business of not making resolutions. It feels good to be batting a thousand, and I still believe 100% that you can change your life any day of the week. Let’s just hope I never again need a gig at Maggiano’s to remind me of that.