Today, I feel loved. I mean, I feel a little bit of love every day of my life, some more than others, but today, I really feel loved. It’s my 23rd birthday. Yes, I am 23 and bee-tee-dub, I’m celebrating in New York City, which is a good place to start a birthday. If I could have a dream birthday, I’d fly every one of you out here and have the most amazing day of my life. I plan on having a fab day of speakers and seminars at the Publishing Institute then heading to Times Square for dinner and drinks with my NYC favorites. Oh Times Square, how you brighten my life – literally. I probably get fake Vitamin D exposure there… or radiation… or at least exposure to 5,000 advertisements (yeah, it’s redic!).
So, as I was pondering my life up to age 23, I became amazed at how I’ve grown, matured, and at the same time stayed five years old. Here are a few milestones I remember that got me where I am today and who I am today – NYC and 23.
- I was born. I know… you’re welcome.
- My parents named me Jennifer Melissa Dryden. I, now, allow you to call me Jenn. Never Jenny. Identity.
- I have a brother… taught me how much of a pain in the butt someone could really be and how a bond between siblings is the hardest and most amazing.
- Kindergarden conferences: My teacher told my mom I was very stubborn and would argue until I had proven my point. My mom told her, “Don’t knock that out of her.” So my mom is to blame. 🙂 (Thanks, Mom.)
- Parents divorced: taught me how to be an individual and strong person.
- First babysitting gig: The Auen family. Found my passion and love for working with children at age 11.
- Casey marries Bryan. Life savers arrive.
- Jumped on to middle school and I found out how love could be… horrible! Don’t ever date in middle school, it’s pointless.
- Pointlessness leads to two more serious boyfriend through high school. Learned love is hard work and sometimes it’s not worth it. My backbone strengthened.
- Amelia is born. Someone to guide, live for, improve for, love as a little sister. Always have a friend to watch iCarly with.
- Graduated high school with no honors, low GPA, and an obsession with my boyfriend. Oops. Community college = year one of college. Year one = 3.89 GPA. I applied myself, found out I was pretty dang smart.
- Broke up with long-term boyfriend. Developed my own dreams.
- Iowa State University = best decision of my life. Best friends, beer, “Buy You a Drink,” love (again), homework, organizations, Daily. Learned how to juggle (not fire) jobs, class, organizations, and a boy.
- College crush = most vulnerable year of my life. Made me aware of creating myself before accepting anyone else into my life.
- Tattoo = letting go of the past, living for myself, my dreams. Looking out for number one!
- Alexandra is born. Another little sister to love.
- Graduated college: finally feel accomplished for the first time. 27 family members and friends showed up to celebrate.
- NYU Summer Publishing Institute = first glimpse at a dream of a girl (me!) who strived to be a New Yorker.
- NYC, realizing I’m a Midwestern girl at heart. Clarity.
There’s the gist. I’ve missed a lot of details and long stories that shape every part of me, my craziness, and my love of life. Every piece of creative writing I’ve written should have been mentioned, so should every person who has ever touched and inspired my life, but you, as readers, only have so much spare time. So, I’ll say this: my 23rd year of this caffeine-free, unpredictable, and Jennifer Dryden life will be the biggest one thus far. The real world is two weeks and three days away from smacking me in the face. This should be…hmmm… interesting.
Thank you for the birthday wishes! xo