21sts and Reflections

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As you guys know, I turned 21 last month. And I’m very lucky to be able to say that “you only turn 21 once” is a phrase which did not apply to me. I got to enjoy four different 21st celebrations: two with friends and two with family. And I wanted to share them here this week, because I’m truly grateful to everyone who made my birthday the best one ever (as well as the longest one ever, tehe).

Obviously the first of these celebrations was on my actual 21st birthday. It was a lovely, relaxing day where I was truly spoilt by my friends, flatmates and family.

My best friend Kate was away at a camp in the morning, but even from there she managed to make sure I had the best start to my day. She’d left me an envelope before she left with strict instructions not to open it until my birthday. So when I opened it that morning, I found she’d made me a wee treasure hunt to find my present (aka the cutest fucking thing ever).

What I found, when I embarked on the treasure hunt, was not one but two (!!!!!) presents!!!!! Not only had she gotten me an elegant pair of gold-plated earrings, but she had also gotten me a tri-pillow (which I call “triangles”). I called her up immediately and was a largely unintelligible mess of excitement and gratitude.

Another flatmate of mine, Mark, also surprised me with a couple of bottles of wine. Everyone was way too sweet!

After the morning’s excitement, I took myself out for brunch and a lovely walk around the city. By some miracle, it was an absolutely incredible day. Here’s a selfie I took on the day because I’m a vain little shit.

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For dinner that evening, I went to a cute Thai restaurant with my flatmates plus a few close friends of mine. For the Wellingtonians reading this, it was Thai Chef’s Restaurant on Blair Street. The service was pretty average to be honest, but the meals were reasonably priced and very delicious, so I’d say it was worth it.

During the next week, I went out to dinner and the opera with my mum, my aunt and my uncle. We enjoyed a delicious three-course meal at a fancy restaurant that I unfortunately can’t remember the name of, otherwise I’d recommend it. And when the desserts came out, this was what mine looked like:

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After dinner it was off to the opera to see Cinderella. Though the storyline moved really slowly (kind of a given when it comes to opera), I enjoyed it a lot because the costumes and the set were just amazing. Plus they had this really pretty little gazebo outside the theatre.

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And here’s what my face looked like. Because there aren’t already enough selfies in this post.

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In all honesty though, I was really happy with my aesthetic that night, and it was an amazing culinary/cultural experience.

The following weekend, my good friend Phil and I put together a pizza party in celebration of our 21sts (we share a birthday). We thought it would be a fun way to bring all our friends together and get to spend time with them, something that doesn’t happen often enough during the semester. So we basically just ordered a buttload of pizza and ate to our hearts’ content. Here’s what that looked like:

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After pizza, we headed over to the church across the road from my flat, which Phil’s friend had booked out for the night. There, we played a variety of party games which mostly involved a lot of running and hiding in dark places (which can be both fun and a little scary in a huge unfamiliar building), but not before a slideshow of embarrassing photos of us played on the massive projector, and we were presented with an adorable birthday cake. Everyone was so lovely to hang out with and I had an incredible time.

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My final 21st happened the weekend after that. On Thursday the 21st of May, I flew up to Hawke’s Bay to spend the weekend at home and have a celebratory birthday with my extended family. It was a much-needed little break after all the stress I’d been under from uni from the past few weeks. I didn’t know what to expect for the actual dinner, but it surpassed anything I could have imagined. Before the event, my parents were saying, “don’t worry, it’s not that fancy,” but I’m glad I’d already decided to go all-out anyway.

Here’s what I wore:

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The place we went to for dinner was called Ten Twenty Four, and it was just really really really beautiful.

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My family and I enjoyed an amazing five course meal (seven if you count the little entrée and the cake), and each course was super delicious. This is the only one I ended up taking a picture of – stingray and fish. So good.

And here are some pictures of the amazingly beautiful cake that they brought out after dessert (yes, you read that correctly, after dessert).

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My last 21st was a dream. Everyone had an amazing time, the venue was beautiful, the food was incredible, and I really enjoyed getting to spend time with all my family – something that happens very infrequently these days. I’m so grateful to my parents for putting it all together, and to everyone for all the wonderful gifts I received. I’m just so so happy with how the whole evening went, so thank you to everyone who was a part of it. I felt very loved.

Altogether I can definitely say that I had the best birthday (four birthdays) ever, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m so happy to be 21.


Since we’ve now made it halfway through 2015, I thought I’d just take a minute to reflect on all the things I’ve done so far this year that I could never have done last year before I started taking antidepressants and started recovering. So far in 2015, I have

  • driven to and from Gisborne on my own,
  • travelled to Auckland and back with a good friend of mine to see one of our favourite groups, ODESZA, playing a show,
  • driven over the Rimutakas (not really anxiety-related – I’ve always been scared by the thought of driving over that road but this year I decided I was just going to do it, and I did),
  • climbed up Te Mata Peak,
  • maintained a weekly blog on top of my regular uni work,
  • been interviewed about my experiences with mental illness, in which I openly discussed my anxiety and panic attacks,
  • organised a big birthday party,
  • and, here’s the biggest one: went on a four-day overseas trip that was organised on a week’s notice.

Maybe a lot of the things I’ve listed here don’t sound like that big of a deal to you, but I seriously do mean it when I say that this time last year, I couldn’t possibly conceive of being able to achieve all of that. I was just too sick. And to have achieved all of this, to be able to do everything that I have done, is so amazing to me. Even to go through my day-to-day life without being followed around by this awful sense of dread is still so amazing to me.

I’m a little bit proud that we’re only halfway through the year and I’ve been able to do so much. It’s nice to be able to look back and actually see that I really am getting better – and it’s also pretty exciting to think about what the rest of this year might bring.

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