A year ago, minus a couple of days, I wrote a blog post about birthdays. It was probably apparent to any of my close friends who read it that I was a little out of sorts, a little apprehensive. I was turning 18, a pretty big milestone. It was my first birthday away from home. My identity felt under fire, living in a new place with people I didn’t know at a university I didn’t expect to attend. All of friends assured me that all would be well. 

Frankly, it wasn’t. My birthday last year was terrible. I was lonely and overlooked. What felt like it should have been an enormous day instead seemed a tribute to how uncomfortable I felt in my new “home.” I hadn’t had enough time to make real connections here, and no matter how much I heard from my friends and family at home, I needed someone with me, I needed something close by to affirm that I really was worth something. Normally, I don’t find myself searching for that kind of affirmation. But an 18th birthday is different.

This past Friday was my 19th birthday. That evening, I had a bunch of friends over to the house I live in with two of my friends to eat pizza and hang out. A friend baked me a cake, my parents got me a renaissance costume, and everything went right that day. On Saturday, wearing the costume I had received, I went with several close friends to the renaissance festival and nerded out about wonderful things all day. On Sunday, my boyfriend took me to dinner and Jersey Boys downtown. It was a weekend full of so many friends and so much love I thought I might burst.

The blog post I wrote last year wasn’t very long. It mostly just talked about how my identity was changing without my consent, even though I knew being eighteen wouldn’t feel much different than being seventeen.

But turning nineteen feels a heck of a lot different than turning eighteen. It’s hard to believe how much everything has changed—my relationships, my living situation, everything. Thank God for change. Thank God for new friends, for people who love me, for a new home, and for another beautiful year.

And yes, 19 definitely made up for 18.