A Country’s Birthday

Happy July 4th! It’s been a minute and then some since I’ve written here, because pesky final exams for my first year of med school got in the way, but I’m back for the long haul (meal planning for the fall will hopefully free up more writing time for me!).

I’ve always loved Independence Day (hello, fireworks!), but there’s been nothing like this past year abroad to make me truly appreciate this wonderful country I grew up in. Although I’ve lived abroad before, this past year has made me acutely aware of the world’s views on Americans (and Texans). A lot of the perceptions stem from various sources – American movies or people met in passing while travelling – and for some, the views could cause a bit of self-consciousness. But for me, I think the things that might render Americans unsavory to some are the things that most endear me to them. Yep, I’m talking about things like the food… we certainly do serve somewhat “bigger” portions here in comparison to other countries, but nowhere else can I find the deliciousness that is Chick-Fil-A. But I’m also talking about things like the intense sense of patriotism, the general kindness of people toward one another (especially toward strangers, at least in Texas), and the work ethic evident in many of our citizens.

So I’ll take the American jokes any day. Because it means that I’m part of an amazing country where 239 years ago, our forefathers had the mettle, the courage, and the ambition to declare our independence and start us on the path to where we are today. I couldn’t be more proud to be an American than I am today. Happy Independence Day!

Golden Golden

IT’S MY GOLDEN BIRTHDAY!

I can barely control the all-Caps right now. I’ve looked forward to my 22nd birthday for years.

YEARS.

Since I was a child.

And it turned out to be everything I could have hoped for, and more. I don’t know why I’ve been blessed with such wonderful and thoughtful friends both near and far, but everyone just went above and beyond to make my birthday so special. So thank you all – to my lovely family, to my family of friends from home, to my family of friends from Pécs, to my family of friends from everywhere! I’m truly overwhelmed by the immense outpouring of love I’ve received today. Twenty-two is going to be such an amazing year!

21

I’m completely overwhelmed.

I think this day has to be the most love-filled day I’ve ever experienced to date.

Today, February 22nd, is my 21st birthday and the joy and bountiful blessings have just been pouring in on me all day long! I always get introspective around special occasions, but this has been an especially poignant birthday for me as I’ve had time over the past few weeks to really ponder over just why I love birthdays so much. I wondered over my penchant for birthdays because I’ve known so many people who lament them, either because they’re getting older or because they don’t know of good presents to ask for or because they don’t get to spend it with certain people. But I love them (and let’s be serious – I adore mine) because it really is a celebration – God’s brought it to my awareness more in these past few weeks, but each day really is a gift. No day is promised to any person, so to have the opportunity to celebrate another year of life? That is truly a wonderful, heavenly gift that deserves to be celebrated. And even though it always shocks me how quickly time passes by, one of my co-workers put it into perspective the other day, saying that “when time passes so quickly, it’s because life is good.” So there’s no need to lament growing up another year… I see it as a time to be immensely grateful for all God has done in my life over the past year and as a time to look forward to new growth and maturity, both personally and spiritually.
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Monday Muse

Suleika Jaouad, writer of the New York Times column Life, Interrupted on the Well blogs, is Prabal Gurung’s first Monday Muse (according to her Facebook page)! Truthfully, she’s such an inspiration to everyone, including me. I started reading her column when it began early last year in the Times, and I truly appreciated the insight she gave on young adults with cancer. Being a “young adult” is already a tricky age, but to compound a grave, life-threatening disease on top of that had to be devastating for her. Yet now she’s basically an ambassador for others with cancer, offering starkly honest thoughts on her experiences to her audience. As someone who wants to go into the pediatric oncology field in the future, I often think of cancer cases in relation to young children. But through her column, I’ve gotten a little glimpse of what it’s like to deal with cancer at such a pivotal age… the age where you feel like your adult life is just beginning, yet you still can’t wait to get home on breaks to give your parents hugs and spend a night in your childhood room. Yeah, I definitely agree with Prabal Guring: Suleika is a wonderful muse to us all.

Also, happy birthday to my little sister! I think that for all who know her would agree with me that she is also a perfect Monday Muse.

2.22

Today is my 20th birthday. It still feels weird to say that, to have a number that begins with a 2. This might be the first birthday I can remember where I actually feel different. Maybe it’s just that this is unexplored territory. I still feel like saying I’m 19 when people ask my age. But overall, I’m so incredibly grateful for another new year of life. That’s the ultimate blessing.

Below are photos from the past three birthdays when I’ve celebrated with friends from school. This is the first year since high school that I get to celebrate with friends and family on my actual birthday!

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Lots of love to all those who share February birthdays.