Happy birthday to me? Sure, sure, if you want to celebrate being one step closer to death. At midnight I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday because I wasn’t officially 25 in American time. Then I realized that I had to wait even more hours because I guess I was born in central time being born in Nebraska and all. I’m definitely 25 now though. I tried to put it off for a few hours but I can only do so for so long. As I told a friend just a week ago (or I’m telling myself I told him, I at least told someone), now I’m closer to 30 than I am 20. Which is okay if 40 is the new 20. Which means 30 is the new 10? Which means I just turned 5. As I embark on kindergarten round two, I should look back and reflect on my first four years of life. Or my first twenty four. Except if I did all the reflecting in this single blog post then it would ruin my future memoirs. To put it simply, it’s pretty unreal to realize I’m in Morocco right now after spending almost seven months abroad compared to where I was just a year ago. I remember a year ago, my parents saying to me “Son, we don’t care what you do but you need to get out of the house for at least eight hours a day so you’re not hanging out at our house doing nothing all the time.” Which I did, I saw movies, I went to the gym, I went to parks, I went to the library, and I also bored the hell out of myself. Which as I’ve said to a few people during my trip, I grew content with it. I thought that I could deal with it and I might never be truly happy but I was far less unhappy than I had been in years prior. Which is a shit deal that depression hands you. You get to such a pit of despair that you’re happy to settle for content. That you know you could amount to more, that you know there are better things out there, and you’re just willing to be fine with getting out of bed in the morning at a reasonable hour. That’s how I was just a single year ago. Now here I am in Africa, volunteering at an orphanage, working with kids and making them smile, making myself smile, feeling like I’m making a difference, and understanding that I can be happy. I didn’t think this much would change in a year, I think that birthday’s come and go and people change and do new things but at certain points you’re in your routine and you don’t do much to mess with the status quo. That may happen to me but it sure hasn’t happened yet. I remember just a few weeks before I left for this trip having extreme anxiety and thinking “Is this worth it? Do I want to shake up my life? Do I want to leave my friends? I don’t think I should do this.” I’m sure as hell proud of myself for going through with it. Sure, it hasn’t been easy the entire time and there have been some rough spots but compared to where I was just a year ago? I feel like I can say that I’m a new me and not have it be total bull. Probably a year ago, you wouldn’t hear me say I was proud of myself, hell you wouldn’t hear me say that I even liked myself. What change a year can bring. Or even the past few months. There have been times where I’ve really regretted my life decisions, wishing I could change it all to end up in a better place but right now I’m finally beginning to be happy where I am. That I wish I could have done some things differently but then again here I am in Africa, celebrating my 25th birthday with two more countries to visit before I even go home. As I mentioned in my probably my most popular post to this day, “I Feel Good”, I do feel good. I feel great. I might be old and nearing death but at least I think I’ll be going out on top. A year ago me probably never figured I’d be here because he figured I’d still be living at home in my parents house wishing I was somewhere else but ultimately okay with it. 26 year old me? I can’t even fathom where I’ll be at this point next year. Which is awesome. Because now I feel like the word of possibilities is open again and I’m ready to explore it. Just like a girl who came here last week, Sophie, she’s 25 going on 26 and she packed her bag with no intention of returning home. The world is your oyster, blah blah blah, you hear all the cliche statements and you think how blase they are. And sure they aren’t the end all be all of sayings but they have a point. The greatest gift I could have at 25 is telling myself that I’m not going to settle for content. I will strive and bite and claw and crawl and climb and do whatever it takes to reach happiness. Not that I’m unhappy now, I just know I can keep climbing and it’ll keep getting better. I didn’t really plan for this post to get sappy and to romanticize the future but I just can’t help it sometimes. Because I’m excited for the future! I’m excited that I may have a handle on the future that I didn’t before and that the future looks bright. At the very least what a whirlwind six, seven months this has been and I know it’s nearing to a close but I’m just so damn happy that I’ve done it. I’m a better man for it and y’all are better off knowing me. Not that you weren’t better off before, I might not have always found myself the greatest but I still gave off a loveable air. Here’s to the next 75, 85, 95 years of life I have left and to whatever comes with them. I just know that it’ll be something special. Because the guy that would have accepted anything less is dead and gone now. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to whoever else was lucky enough to have a birthday on this day. And Happy Birthday to me again because why not? So it goes.