Year to year, my childhood could be characterized by one day: my birthday. Tiaras, minerals, cotton candy and much more, my birthdays always centered around an elaborate theme that represented my current interests. My parents always encouraged me to express myself. An opportunity I used to my advantage when it came time to plan my birthday party. I always picked a theme that I felt most accurately described my interests and the person I was that year. From the cake, to decorations and special guests my birthday parties signaled both the passing of time and my ever-evolving interests.
The first year, I picked the theme an average three-year old would pick, princesses. I was very excited while getting ready for the party, as I had convinced my mom to invite the real Cinderella to my house. However once the party began, I learned that ‘the real Cinderella’ simply meant a random twenty-year old girl, wearing a ball gown and nike tennis shoes. She showed up forty-five minutes late for my party. The first moment I saw her, my jaw dropped and tears formed in my eyes. I couldn’t say anything, except a desperate cry to my mom, “the shoes”. At three, I was traumatized by the experience and I learned a hard lesson that year. One I wouldn’t repeat.
For my fourth birthday party, I knew I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as the year before, I had grown a hard exterior…literally, I requested a rock-themed birthday party. At first, my parents were confused, thinking I had requested a rock and roll party, until I eagerly pulled out my rock collection and reminded them of my most recent passion. After my dreams of a real princess party were crushed, I needed a theme I could rely on, and there was nothing more solid and trustworthy for a four-year old, than a rock. So, my friends came over for an incredible day of rock painting, the day was topped off by geode party favors. I loved rocks and science so this made for a perfect birthday theme for me. But, once turned five, I needed more. I was ready to broaden my horizons and go wild. So, I requested a carnival themed party. This was going to be the most extravagant party yet. It featured my neighbors dressed as a fortune-teller and a bearded lady, as well as my sister and her friends stepping in as carnival workers who ran the carnival games and handed out prizes. The party was everything my five-year old self had imagined. And as my friends left through a haze of cotton candy, they complimented me on my great party theme.
As I grew up, there were other parties and other interesting themes, and what I learned through the process of changing birthday party themes, was how much I continue to change as a person. Just like my party themes evolved and changed, so has my personality and my interests. And I honestly believe that I will keep evolving and finding different interests. While these new and ever evolving interests no longer correlate to my birthday party themes, through my self-reflection, I’ve realized that I’m always open to new experiences, and excited to try something new. Whether I’m taking new classes, exploring new artistic mediums, or exploring new leadership options at school, I’m always changing. These changes may not be as obvious as my party themes, but through this evolutions, I’ve been able to discover who I am.
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