It’s hard to write this because I don’t really want to, but there is a deep, high-pitched voice in the back of my head that tells me I need to.
There is nothing more unreliable than memory, and nothing more valuable. We are a compilation of stories constantly crafted and rewritten by the second. Walking, unstable machines plagued with the consequences of emotion.
Every person has multiple versions of themselves: our own personalities are split into multiple directors commanding the narratives of who we actually are, who we want to be, and who we believe we are.
I believe I will write all the time. I want to write all the time. I actually only write reliably twice a year, every year since I was thirteen. Two letters. One to my father and one to myself, or a version of myself. A younger me, an older me, a present me.
People characterize themselves by the things they feel they need to do but don’t actually have to do. Writers are synonymous with dreamers because of drafts, of edits, of backspaces and white-out. Because there can be multiple attempts, multiple efforts. Because you can rewind, rewrite, retry.
People colorize morality in tones of black and white or the spaces in between. People tell me I want to be liked. That I am a good person. That I am kind and funny with a big heart and a bitchy disposition. People tell you that you are things for their own benefit; to simplify who you are and what you are in their memory bank. To fold the entirety of you into a library card and file you in the cabinet of people they want to understand. To rent you out to the stories and caricatures they’ve made conversational pieces from.
I am twenty-five, and have cried multiple times the days leading up to today, because of today. Because I’m impressed. Because it wasn’t about doing everything correctly or to someone else’s idea of perfectly.
It was just about doing it. About making it in the simplest, purest meaning of the phrase. It was about not just living, but surviving. It was about fighting everyday for memories. For significance. For the ability to wake up on February 13, 2019 to two dozen mixed-colored roses, a kiss on the forehead, and the surefire belief that there would be many, many more of these kinds of birthdays.
Birthdays bathed in the ability to order Thai food at noon, take naps on the couch in my underwear and write long, self-indulgent pieces to myself with the feeling of long-term job security at a company that loves me, that fights for me everyday, working alongside a team of women who are only ever positive. Birthdays wearing his t-shirt purchased from one of our LA day trips, covered in his scent.
Birthdays solidified in contentment, without the subtle coloring or over-romanticized notion of a dreamy, rockstar-type suicide.
I was eighteen when I first clicked the ‘Go Live’ button on a dashboard. Seven years since I broadcasted my gameplay, no-webcam, Own3d.tv League of Legends stream. There was magic in being the creator and leading character of something that belonged only to me and starred only me.
I lived off of Pizza hut giftcards and Forever 21 bargain bins. I lived off the belief that I could make it. That I was capable. I woke up to 2 viewers and fell asleep to 6. I woke up to a cold home, and fell asleep to morbid thoughts.
I know you want this to lead somewhere. For there to be a point, a reason to why I wrote 600 words so far.
The point is that I’ll look through this post again, sometime next year or this year or eventually and find different reasons, rationales, every time. The point is that two or three people will read this and come to separate, probably perpendicular, conclusions.
The point is the scars on my body are as integral to it as the blood that runs through it. The entirety of my life, if you weighed it and measured it, have been more sad and dark days than any other kind of days, and I’ve printed them all and manifested them into words. Collected my tears into serifs because I knew one day they would be important enough.
But the happy days: they’ve shined through vods I’ve already deleted, that live on, sparkling the days of people who still remember them.
I turn the pages of my own tumblr, of this blog, of the countless journals hidden throughout my closets, night stands, and desk drawers. I look through scribbles of who I was in exact moments, protected on pieces of bar napkins, and rediscover versions of myself I was too afraid or too ignorant or too preoccupied to see.
I’ve described myself throughout the years with different adjectives every time. Phrases I felt were memorable because I didn’t believe I, myself, could ever be enough.
But the happy days–how you’ve all described me–are saved in virtual and handwritten letters (saved across various email addresses because I’m afraid of losing them) hold more purpose, more of my sanity, than anything I could’ve ever conjured.
I’m twenty-five, and can’t make defining statements on who I am or what I am, because I know that to hundreds, maybe even thousands, I was a refuge. A villian, a bitch, a girl who transcribed the depression you felt. I was a confidant, an entertainer, a bestfriend, the person who understood and assuaged you. I was an escape, a reality: a possibility. I was hope. I was comfort.
I was feeling.
I’m surrounded by people who calculate success through KPIs. Through finances. Through followers or likes or social media metrics. I thought that because I failed all of these, I was a failure to myself. I thought I was a failure, to everyone else.
I’m twenty-five, and I know, definitively, that I have always been enough.
Don’t discourage yourself from your own journey because you’ve spent too much time looking at someone else’s. You’ll make the mistake I did, and lose the ones who have been rooting for your path every day.
Thank you, to everyone who chose to stay.
Happy birthday to 25 years of living.