Today is my birthday.

I’ve been thirty for about an hour. I guess I could say I won’t officially be 30 until 6:18PM PST, but we’ll call it right now.

If you had asked me at 16, at 21, at 25, and even last year, what my life would look like right now, I would’ve given you a very different picture than what I am living. I would’ve mentioned marriage and maybe a kid. I would’ve painted this picture of myself– caring, accommodating, wrapped up in the life of someone else and completely entwined in giving everything to anybody but myself. If I’m honest, that’s what I wanted: I wanted to disappear into someone else’s world, content to play the role I thought I was supposed to.

And every day I thank my lucky stars I did not get that life.

Today, as I turned 30, I went to a job I love and taught my students. Then I coached kids while they ran. Then I lifted heavy shit above my head as best as I could.

I went on live TV and didn’t completely lose my cool. I called a friend I trusted when I needed to vent. I stood up for myself when I thought I had to, and then let laughter and love lead to forgiveness, acceptance, and moving forward.

I had a beer at my favorite neighborhood bar, Pint and Jigger. I had good, honest conversation that made me laugh till my stomach hurt. Now, I am sitting here typing this while a big bowl of my mom’s arroz con pollo cools and a can of one of my favorite beers– recommended by another friend– waits for me. Tonight, I will hopefully be sharing another beer with some of the people I love the most.

And I couldn’t be more content.

If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s to trust so deeply in the idea that the more loving a life I lead, the more love will come to me. I spent so much of my life– for reasons beyond my understanding– scared I would not find love. I clung to it, dug for it, tended it in the places that it clearly could not grow in any healthy manner.

In the months leading up to this birthday, however, I have been reminded time and time again, just how blessed I am with people that put up with my bullshit and support me. I don’t know what I did, if anything, to deserve it, but I am in awe of it each day.

So, today is my birthday. Today, I was reminded that my greatest power, my biggest strength is my ability to love big, wide, open, honest, and fiercely.

And I feel like that’s a pretty important lesson to have learned.

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