This weekend, I turned 28. One step closer to 30, one step further away from my twenties. I’ve seen a lot of people freaking out over social media as their birthday approaches, fearing getting older and worrying about what they might have, or not have, achieved. So many use this as a time to turn on the pressure and put their lives under the microscope, judging their every move and their “success”by whatever measure society deems acceptable whether it be career, marriage or being a homeowner. It saddens me to see people use their birthday as a time to put themselves under scrutiny instead of celebrating all they have achieved. I’ve always seen birthdays as an important time to celebrate yourself, to take the time to tell yourself that you’re great, and that actually, you’re doing alright. Too often we spend all our time being our harshest critics, and forget that we also need to be our own best friend, as well as our worst enemy. When we say that everyone is fighting a battle and that we need to be kind, we’re also talking about ourselves.

I think the people it seems to bother the most are the ones who claim high school was the best time of their lives, that they would give anything to go back. I have never understood this way of thinking but so many people have said this to me in recent years. I just want to shake them and ask how on earth the part over which you had the least control of your own happiness be the best time of your life? Sure, I had a great time at high school, but I was always very aware that it was a means to an end, that getting an education was what I needed to do so that I could reach the next level and be a step closer to being independent and leading my own life, not the one society expected me to. Surely if you peak that early, it doesn’t leave you far to go? And I was well-aware even at that age that there were a lot of places I wanted to go.I’ve always loved celebrating my birthday, my friends will tell you how I always try and stretch out the celebrations as much as possible. I remember my last birthday, which was spent at a hostel in Fremantle, just outside Perth, Australia, surrounded by new friends and amazing souls. I had been dreading my birthday because I had no idea where I would be for it, or who I would be with. It’s always a risk when travelling that your birthday could be lonely, unless you get out there and make friends and find a crew worth celebrating with. So last year I did just that, I had arrived in the epic Pirates Backpackers hostel and was instantly united with a huge group of party-loving, travel maniacs who made my few weeks there so very special. I really needn’t have worried about how I would spend my birthday, the universe aligned and gave me the best birthday surrounded by so much love. From a reunion birthday brunch with some old travelling friends, to surprise birthday cake and a party in the park, to another two surprise birthday cakes that evening and celebrations with the whole hostel. I have never felt so loved and so spoilt, and all by people who I had only met a week before. Best of all, I remember my boyfriend being there for the celebrations, it was just a week after we met but already he was there in the background. Little did we know where we would end up a year later.

Last year’s was the ultimate solo traveller birthday and one I will never forget, but this year it was a much quieter occasion with just me and the boyfriend taking off on a special road trip for the weekend. I’ll be posting more about it later on, but it really gave me time for reflection on the last year, which has been one of the biggest rollercoasters of my life. The reason I love celebrating my birthday so much, why I have no fear of getting older, is because every single year of my life has taken my happiness levels to new heights. Because that’s the only measure I use to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going, and right now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. On my last birthday I never dreamt that I would spend my next one in Germany where I would be living with the guy I’d been dating for a week. I never could have imagined how my life would end up at 28, but I’m pretty damn happy with it and I’m a hell of a lot better off than I was at 16 or even at 26.And before someone says it, this isn’t down to luck. It’s not because I was born lucky, it’s not because of money or success, it’s because of me. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I’m living the life I am because I’ve worked hard for it, I’ve made sacrifices for it, and quite simply because I got off my arse and made it happen. I made a conscious decision to be happy, to be the happiest I could possibly be, when I went travelling, and in the last four years I can honestly say that I have achieved that. Every single year that goes by, my life gets more incredible and I experience more amazing things, I meet people that set my soul alight and who change everything. It’s all because I said YES to life and I took a chance in exchange for an adventure. Well that adventure is still ongoing and who knows where I’ll end up, but I know it’s exciting to not know. But right here, right now, at 28, I’m really grateful for what I have. Amazing friends and family, the best boyfriend I could ever ask for, the life of adventure I always wanted, a beautiful new home and this blog going from strength to strength. Because honestly, if you seize life with both hands and take control, there really is nothing to fear.

How do you feel about birthdays – love them or hate them? How do you love to celebrate your birthday – big party or quiet weekend away?