They call this the Golden Birthday. I am turning 23 on January 23rd. Apparently it’s also referred to as the Lucky Birthday. I was considering this the other day as I was looking in the mirror. Really looking in the mirror, not just a quick glance to check my hair or makeup. For the first time ever, I didn’t see a child, a dependent, my parents’ daughter. I saw an adult, someone who finally looked roughly her age, a person in her own right.
I saw a girl who straightened and whitened her teeth and highlighted her hair to feel better about her looks even when not in glam mode. A girl who might be a little too into makeup and looks and nail polish, but one who is finally growing into her looks. One who thinks a little too much about exercise and eating healthy and fitness and food, but one who takes comfort in feeling healthy and knowing exercise helps her through the day.
But then I looked deeper. I saw a girl who has never felt like she fits in and wonders if she ever will. The girl rejected at school, sitting silent at lunch with a table full of people who preferred not to speak to her turned into the woman who still feels rejected, unpopular, the last choice. One with big dreams and no tangible way to make them come true. Hopes and dreams filling her mind most of the time, she only wishes they were reality. One who knows she has something special in her, but doesn’t know if others will ever see it.
There’s a kind young woman who wants a friend. A best friend. A friend she can call in the middle of the night. A friend to go shopping or to events with when Mom and Dad don’t want to go. A wingman. A partner in fun and fashionable crime. She also wants to be swept off her feet. Or at least taken on her very first date by a gentleman, a guy who opens doors and pulls out chairs. To know what it feels like to be cared about by someone other than her parents.
The person I look at is sometimes tortured by worry. Allowing fears, mostly over germs and getting sick, to control her life. It sometimes stops her from going out, having fun, sometimes causes her to shut down, but she makes it through. She tries to push it out of her mind, tell herself everything will be okay. And in the moments she can actually accomplish this, she is filled with happiness. Luckily, she also appreciates a really simple day at home, where TV and movies will always trump books.
This woman is so far from perfect. She makes mistakes, says the wrong thing, so often goes against the rest of the crowd. But she relishes in imperfection and the fact that no one is perfect. It is how we fix mistakes and right wrongs that makes us strong, that makes us better people, that makes it okay to be imperfect.
She’s a dreamer, knowing what she wants and that she will achieve it . . . she’s just not sure when. She knows she’s lucky to have parents whom she loves unconditionally and provide the same love right back to her, supporting her through thick and thin, allowing her to chase those dreams. She is filled with passion for writing and loves sharing that with the world (or at least a very small part of it).
Hope for the future gets her through the days where uncertainty over said future brings her down. Hope propels her through life. Hope that tomorrow will be better. Hope that her dreams will come true. Hope that all it takes is one break and amazing things can happen.
And then I take a deep breath, processing all the thoughts that just rolled through my head, and I see me. Plain old me. But I’m happy with the person I see. The me that has grown and changed. The me that has achieved so much. And most importantly the me that has the potential to achieve so much more. The Golden Birthday, here’s to hoping it leads to a golden year. Twenty three, it’s you and me. Let’s make some great things happen.
To celebrate, I whipped up some French macarons. No, they are not perfect, but for my first try, they were incredibly easy to make and came out remarkably well. Less than 20 minutes of simple prep, then some waiting time, before they go in the oven and magic happens. The delicate pastries have an equally delicate flavor, lightly sweet with a hint of almond. They melt in your mouth. I filled mine with American Spoon Blackberry Spoon Fruit, but we all agreed that the macarons were almost better plain. The main reason they weren’t all totally perfect is my weird oven. It got completely cool leaving the door cracked as the recipe stated, so it threw off the baking times and didn’t allow them to bake and rise properly. I will try again, trying to outsmart my oven, but until then, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday. Thanks for reading!
- 1 ¼ cups, plus 1 teaspoon, confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 6 tablespoons egg whites, from about 4 large eggs
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Blackberry Spoon Fruit or preserves for filling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and almond meal until it is fully combined and there are no lumps.
- Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue mixing on high until stiff, glossy peaks form.
- Sprinkle the almond mixture over the whipped egg whites and gently fold in using a rubber spatula.
- Using a pastry bag with a plain tip or a zipper bag with the tip cut off, pipe the macarons onto the baking sheet. (I used the zipper bag). The macarons should be about 1 inch in diameter and about 2 inches apart. Allow the macarons to sit on the sheets at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, until the top is dry to the touch with a thin skin and no longer shiny.
- Bake with the oven door slightly ajar for 15-20 minutes until the top is completely dry to the touch and the macarons have puffed, rotating halfway through if necessary. Cool completely on baking sheet. Once cool, very carefully peel them away from the parchment. They are very fragile. May be stored at room temperature 1 day or in the refrigerator for 2 days. I do not recommend freezing them.
- Fill the macarons as close to being served as possible. Place about 1 teaspoon of jam on 1 macaron and sandwich another of equal size on top.