Yesterday was my birthday. Happy 38th birthday to me! But more importantly, it’s time for my sorta annual self-indulgent birthday blog post. If you’ve been here for a while, then you know what I’m talking about.

A cupcake with a blue wrapper and multiple candles sits in the foreground with multi-colored balloons in the background. The text says "Happy 38th Birthday to Me!"

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. This isn’t exactly a special or portentous birthday. There are no happy 38th birthday to me quotes or happy 38th birthday images that get shared around the web.

It’s not really a birthday that people think about. And mostly, I feel the same.

I’m also not a birthday person, which is to say that I don’t particularly care about birthdays. If you’re a friend of mine, I’ve likely forgotten to wish you a happy birthday on your special day. This is because I forget everything.

One thing I really like about my birthday is the moment to take stock of what I’ve done and where I’ve been. And my birthday is late enough in the year that I can also feel the new year coming around the corner and think of the person I want to be moving forward.

Is time a made up concept? Yeah. Do we only experience the world through made up concepts? Also yes. LET ME FUCKING HAVE THIS.

So, in lieu of funny 38th birthday quotes, let me share these things I’ve learned in the past year. And if you need some 38th birthday wishes to a friend, feel free to send them this post.

Happy 38th Birthday to Me

Perhaps more than any other year in my life, 37 taught me lessons and I made the biggest strides. For that reason, 38 feels like an accomplishment.

The year started on a high, hit a pretty immediate snag with a personal tragedy, transitioned into the worst burnout I’ve ever experienced in my whole life, shifted into cutting people off, took a brief sabbatical in what I like to call Marisa’s Convalescent Home for Type-A Babies with High ACEs Scores, and is ending in a little cul-de-sac, much like the one I grew up on.

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So, I don’t have any happy 38th birthday to me quotes or a particularly cohesive happy 38th birthday to me message. And unlike in past years, I won’t be doing a whole list of 38 things I’ve learned in my life.

If that’s what you’re looking for, you can check out some of these old posts:

Instead, I’d like to use this post to share things that I feel, in this very moment, are important. Is this self-indulgent? Yeah. But it’s my fucking birthday and my fucking blog.

Did I search engine optimize this post so my 38th birthday nonsense is now you’re nonsense? Also yeah.

What can I say? I have skills that I’m too burnt out to use to pay the bills. SO I USE THEM FOR THIS.

What’s Important on My 38th Birthday

I wish I had some catchy 38th birthday quotes for her, the birthday queen, or even like, something that would resonate more broadly. Please know that I’m a space cadet to my core, and this list will reflect that.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  1. The right people can give you space and let you come back when you’re ready.
  2. The less you fight it, the less time you’ll spend wishing you started sooner.
  3. You knew yourself pretty well when you were younger. Let younger you drive every now and again.
  4. Martyrs get a lot of attention in death, but I bet they’re insufferable to be around while they’re alive.
  5. There’s the truth, there’s how you feel, and there’s how you feel when you’ve spent too much time talking with someone else and getting worked up. Only one of those things is still the truth.
  6. Stop ignoring red flags and warning signs. Your life has only ever improved by getting those people out of your life.
  7. Every breath you draw is an opportunity to do what you want. There are no big chances or do-or-die moments.
  8. If you can’t be honest with someone, they aren’t worth your time.
  9. No one cares about what you need when you’re going through shit. They want to do what makes them feel good, even if you hate it.
  10. If you feel alone in a group of people, it’s because you never belonged in the first place.
  11. Keep your inner circle small.
  12. Build your own traditions, especially if you hated the ones you grew up with.
  13. If they really gave a fuck about you, they would’ve fixed the problems when they were happening instead of asking you to absolve their guilt now.
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Is this all vague? Yeah. But it’s all true. Do with this information what you will.

Happy 38th Birthday to Me Letter

What follows is a letter to myself on my birthday. Maybe it’ll resonate with you. Maybe it won’t.

At the end of the day, it’s my name on this website, and if I want to use this space to do an overly sentimental LiveJournal circa 2006-style post, then I definitely will.

Dear Marisa,

You have a life that your younger self couldn’t even imagine. Remember when you thought you’d be dead by 29 because you had that weird dream about fish hooks? You were a weird fucking kid.

You’re a weird fucking adult too. That’s your super power. Just being a little weirdo.

The past year was rough and most of it was lived inside your head, more so than any previous year. Luckily, you were ready for it since you’re always in your head anyway.

But it’s time to get back into putting those thoughts out in the world. You’ve sat on them long enough.

Your word for 2023 was “peace,” and who knew you’d get it through conflict? Sometimes you can’t go around, you gotta go through. But it’s quiet now for the first time in a long time, and that means you’ve got more space for writing and spending time with your awesome husband who would do anything for you.

(He totally got you a first edition of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 for your birthday this year. He’s the best.)

Let 38 be the year that you come home to yourself. Get back in your body and make a little space in your head for new things. Build new routines and do the work that matters to you. More writing, less dissociating. More time in the sun, less time on the couch.

More of what you love, less of what you don’t.

This year, we aren’t doing shit because we think we’re supposed to. This year, baby girl, we’re doing what we want to do, and we’re doing it our way.

XOXO, Marisa

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