And then it hit me, I got everyone I need

The salt in my wounds isn’t burning any more than it used to.

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Last year’s birthday blog reflected on what a terrible year it had been; and how I was still thankful for some good things that happened. Needless to say, 2012 was a sh*tty year. So, I guess when I went through the official age transition, I just made a pact with myself not to make the same mistakes again.

Twenty-one is the worst idea that I’ve ever had and in that birthday I blog, I swore:

When I turned 22, I had that two pivotal seconds of the day when I told myself that no, 22 isn’t going to be a repeat of 21.

Flash forward to a year later, December 5, 2013, I realized that just for once, I fulfilled a promise. For all my faults as a person, I did a lot of things right this year. And yes, if you really must know, 22 wasn’t a repeat of 21–in more good ways than one.

I guess Taylor Swift’s “22” is my lucky charm. I couldn’t even begin to say how accurate happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time is. But it was that kind of year.

I took a leap this year by accepting a job that meant I had to meet new people, step out of my comfort zone, and throw myself out there amid the people I know nothing about. I got out of a relationship. I had to change a lot with the way I thought about things, people, and situations. I had to work on earning back my confidence after it got crushed. I had to be reminded of the person I am and the person I am capable of being.

After losing everything to fate last year, I had to work with what little I have left to build myself a new life–something akin to what I could use as I build myself a new future.

Maybe, this is what they say about hitting rock bottom: there’s no other way but up.

Last night, while I was on the way home from the intimate dinner I had with my mom and my closest of friends, I found myself smiling to myself. And you know what’s so awesome about that?

It’s the first birthday I ended with a smile on my face.

I’ve had a lot of great birthdays before; grand, expensive ones but none of those ever made me feel the way I felt last night. I felt so… together.

Like I’m right where I needed to be.

And then it hit me, I got everyone I need.

I accepted a job earlier this year and I remember writing, “The moment I stepped inside that office, it immediately felt right; like something inside me just clicked and made me feel like it’s going to be okay.

Up until yesterday, I didn’t know what feeling meant. I don’t know what it is about being an Editor for Vocus felt so right. It’s not my dream job because let’s face it, my dream job would include Broadway but something about it feels so right.  Like, something about it keeps me calm and collected.

And yesterday, while my teammates are singing me the birthday song amid the surprise tribute they gave me, I realized it was never about the job and how the job pays really good money.

It’s about the people. It’s about all these dorks I work with everyday; the people who were once strangers to me. Under normal circumstances, strangers would have scared me away or I would have scared them away but these people, they have become a family–the kind of family I never had.

Everyday–for the past 10 months–I have grown more comfortable with them; slowly, I have stripped every layer of wall I had to let them in.

It’s funny how fate could surprise us, really; how it gives us the people we need to get back on our feet. And this people, although I will never say it out loud; and they may not know how or why–but they have put me back together.

They met me at a different time. I was on the verge of losing it. I was at that point in my life where I pointed and shot a gun at everyone who tried to come too close but then, it somehow worked out.

People always tell me how I’m so smart and brainy but I have no answers as to how it worked. It just did–and sometimes, that’s enough.

To me, it’s more that enough.

And then, there are my friends with whom I share more than five years of friendship with. It was a simple dinner, an intimate and exclusive one. I wanted my family and my friends close; so a dinner with my mom and five other close friends? That’s my 23rd birthday.

It’s not too much. But it’s enough to make my 23rd birthday the best birthday I’ve had for the longest while.

Amid all the laughing and the eating and drinking, I realized how these people never left me; how they’re still here sharing food and drinks with me despite all the times I closed myself in. They may not have seen the extent of the damage I had for the most part of last year but they were there, like lifeguards who watched from afar and was ready to jump in just in case I needed help.

They are, by far, the longest relationship I’ve had and I think, this is the kind of relationship I can be good at.

Wishing on cakes and candles is a weird birthday tradition. But as I was about to blow the candle last night and when everybody was asking me to make a wish, I found myself at loss for anything more.

Right at that moment, I couldn’t think of anything else to wish for. My mom got promoted. I have friends and family. I am well on the way to finally getting my old self back–one that I have lost because of a toxic relationship.

So, I just closed my eyes and thanked the Higher Force that gave all of these things to me. I don’t know what I did right and I’m certain I’m a terrible person for the most part of my life but I sat right there with my friends, sharing food and drinks–and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

So yes, 22 wasn’t a repeat of 21.

It’s something more than a year of getting back on my feet and letting go of relationships that held me back. It’s more of a year about loving thy self more. It’s a year about being grateful. It’s a year about knowing the people who lift you. It’s a year about of grasping who you are and wrapping yourself around the idea of that person.

It’s about counting your blessings.

I still have my friends from college, from my first job, and from everywhere else, wishing me a happy birthday. I have new friends who have eased their way into my life in a matter of 10 months. My mom is getting better by the minute.

So yes, I could be certain I got everyone I need.

Because I ever really needed are people who stay.

Author: Lora Dee

Proof that a degree in Communication doesn't make anyone less awkward; music taste ranges from the very first Britney Spears album to Arcade Fire and Haim but does not include Justin Bieber and One Direction; favorite poet is me because everyone is a poet when they're sad enough.

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