A Quarter Century Old

I hate birthdays. Actually I only hate my birthday and, if given the opportunity, wouldn’t bother celebrating it. (Un)fortunately and without fail, my family and friends actively push me to celebrate in some way every single year. Apart from the obvious terrifying fact that every birthday indicates the too-quick passing of time (and aging…yikes), I’m also an incredibly shy person at heart and hate having too much attention on me. I mean, people singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me leads to blushing and some secret anxiety. I’m fine with this for the most part as long as the celebration is simple and includes minimal attention on me, and this year was no exception. This time around it was my mom who started pressuring me to celebrate the quarter-century milestone. I can’t deny that 25 is kind of a big deal, so I succumbed to her pleads.

You know what they say – mom is always right! I invited my closest friends to join my family and I in celebrating over a lovely dinner at home back in early August (I know, this post is over 2 weeks delayed).

food spread

Due to limited time and a busy working schedule, my mom and I opted to purchase some pre-prepped food items from Whole Foods. My mom also cooked up some steaks (covered in cheeeeeese), baked salmon, and roasted potatoes for our dinner menu.

The food was fantastic and the company even better. The night topped off with some raspberry-filled cake from Whole Foods:


It’s still hard to believe that I turned 25 years old.

birthday girl

Looking back, I remember being 19 years old and thinking how old 25 year-olds were. In my mind they were basically adults! I equated them to my parents (because all adults are still adults regardless of age, right?).


Now, as I sit here and type up these quarter-aged musings of mine, I realize that I am most definitely nowhere near where I thought I would be based on predictions from 5 – 10 years ago. Only a few years back I saw myself as a graduate with my master’s degree in Structural Engineering from a top tier university. Had I followed that track, I would only now be starting my career as a civil engineer. Reality: I’m not even an engineer anymore!

And don’t even get me started about my predictions on personal life – back in high school I expected to be married with a baby on the way at this time! The truth is, I still feel 18 at heart, and I probably still act like one too…


Oh how differently things turned out. I’m single, living in Manhattan, working in a non-engineering field, and with no Master’s degree in sight. But it’s ok! I’m ready to mingle, loving life in New York, enjoying my job, and still planning on attending graduate school. Just because the timeline didn’t fit into my “plan” doesn’t mean that what was important to me isn’t any longer.


Here’s the thing though – it’s ok. I am totally fine and happy with where I am at this point in my life. I’m blessed with the most incredible family, amazing friends, and marvelous opportunities that have come my way. Heck, I freaking live in Manhattan! What was once a dream is now a reality. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m grateful for all my blessings daily.


Despite all my whining and complaining about this coming of age, I have to confess that my instinct is telling me that this is going to be an incredible year. I feel sexy, confident, determined, and absolutely unstoppable. The world is my oyster and I get butterflies just thinking about what’s in store for me in the days/weeks/months/years to come.

Thank you to my parents and sister who have been there for me during the best and worst of times over the past 25 years. I wouldn’t have made it to this age without you! And thank you to all my friends who stuck by my side, here’s to another 25+ years of friendship! How did I get so lucky?

♥ Irina


  1. August 23, 2013 / 10:55 am

    What a lovely birthday celebration! That cake in particular looks wonderful — and it’s got to be good for you, right, since it’s from Whole Foods? That’s how I like to approach life. Anything from Whole Foods = automatic health food. Hahaha.

    I love your outlook here, though. I’m certainly not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life–well, I suppose I figured I’d have a job, but I also definitely figured I’d be either married or engaged by now, too (“by now.” At the ripe old age of not-even-23-yet. Haha. Ah, the culture of young marriage from whence I came!). Sometimes I get all caught up in that and not being where I thought I’d be, blah blah blah, but when that does happen I do my best to flip that on its head. It’s true, I’m not where I thought I’d be: I never thought I’d be living and working in Chicago, ever, period, I never thought I’d be stable enough to feel that I’m financially independent from my parents, ever, period…heck, I never really thought I’d be able to move out! But less than two months after I graduated from college, I was in Chicago, earning a salary and living on my own. So even if I’m not “where I thought I’d be,” I think where I ended up isn’t so bad, and it’s great to see you have that kind of attitude as well.

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:18 pm

      Thank you! I obviously take the same approach to desserts from Whole Foods 😉

      Your story was very interesting to read when you last posted about your hometown and the route you chose to take with your own life. You have SO MUCH to be proud of! Look how far you’ve already made it at such a young age, I can’t wait to see where you’ll be a few years from now!

  2. August 23, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    Great post, Irina! I’m the same way about birthdays: I hate them!

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:19 pm

      Thanks! Yea I’ve never been a fan of celebrating my birthday…it’s just an added source of stress! But I can’t deny that it’s nice to gather all my loved ones in one place and spend a few hours with them!

  3. August 23, 2013 / 2:20 pm

    Funny, because at 18 I would have NEVER thought I would be married by 26. I thought I was going to be a career girl forever. Now I live in the ‘burbs and I’m married, but definitely still a career girl so I guess things turned out better than expected!

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:23 pm

      It’s so interesting how we perceived those in their mid-twenties back when we were teenagers! I’ve basically given up trying to “predict” where I’ll be in my thirties because…who knows!

  4. August 23, 2013 / 4:17 pm

    Oh my goodness- what a GORGEOUS birthday celebration! How could you possibly dislike your birthday when it was spent like that?! Mom’s always know best. (:
    I know that this is going to be an unbelievable year for you. You’ve done all of the hard work and made all of the big decisions- now it’s time to live the life you’ve been imagining!

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:25 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I think I mainly don’t like my birthday because I’m shy and hate the attention on me. I also hate planning it…it causes me so much added stress! But thank you so much for the kind words, I have a feeling you’re entering an amazing point in your life too…lets ride it out and enjoy it all!

  5. August 23, 2013 / 6:16 pm

    well Happy birthday first off and second you look gorgeous. I feel the same way about birthdays but I try to remember it is just a way to be with everyone you love on one day!!

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:29 pm

      Thanks girl! And I couldn’t agree more…if anything then a birthday is the perfect time to gather all your loved ones for some time well spent!

  6. August 23, 2013 / 7:52 pm

    Happy Belated Birthday! You honestly don’t look any older than eighteen ;)! Haha, I still get mistaken for being five years younger than I look :P.
    Small, intimate celebrations are the best in my opinion. I’m glad your 25th was so special :)!

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:31 pm

      Ha thanks 🙂 I get that a lot…it makes me quite happy when people mistake me for a high school or college student but still! Growing up is scary!

  7. August 23, 2013 / 7:59 pm

    Right there with you on preferring the laid-back celebrations not being the centre of attention for the whole day.
    Just judging from the pictures it truly looks like you had an amazing day with your family and close friends.
    It’s great to hear your taking an easy approach to life not having gone just the way you’d predicted. Knowing myself I can tell that’s not going without the doubts and pondering every now and then. Yet I’m just now learning to accept life’s simply [what a pun] not meant to go the way we planned for it at times. It’s adapting to those surprises and changes that’ll [hopefully – fingers crossed!] get us where we’re supposed to go. But it sounds like you already found this out yourself. I’m excited to follow along and find out where life’s taking you.
    Oh, and by the way: you look gorgeous in all of the pictures!

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:45 pm

      Yea I personally think that the only way to live life is to have expectations but understand that there is no such thing as definites. I hate to say it and this may come out wrong, but in a way it may be best to lower expectations or just not have any. This way everything feels grander and more exciting, and less tragic or negative. Ok I don’t think I’m making much sense…it’s late here and I’m drifting off to sleep 🙂 so pardon the mumbling and nonsense!

  8. August 25, 2013 / 8:57 pm

    Sounds like we’re both going through a “am I were I thought I’d be?” moment right now 🙂 But as you pointed out on my blog, you just need to live your life as you see fit. Also, I agree, birthdays are kind of awkward. I’ve had my share of awesome birthdays and disappointing birthdays, so now I’m just happy if it doesn’t suck and I’m not alone on the big day.

    • August 25, 2013 / 10:48 pm

      Yea, it seems to be a trend around these parts 🙂 I think each age comes with its own “who am I, where am I” moments, some more extreme and prominent than others. Will it ever subside? I sincerely hope so because the feeling isn’t exactly great. I guess the best we can do is just be happy with how we spend the day and who we spend it with!

  9. August 26, 2013 / 6:40 am

    AH I love this! Happy belated birthday! I feel like you are at the turning point age and you seem to be doing amazing! New blog name, new home city, feeling sexy! I love that you said that!

    • August 29, 2013 / 10:50 pm

      Thank you!! Sometimes a little change does great things 🙂

  10. August 26, 2013 / 9:15 pm

    HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IRINA!!! I am with you in that I hate celebrating my own birthday (I don’t like being the center of attention like that). But it looks like you had a wonderful celebration! I also thought for sure that by now I’d be in a much different phase of life than I am actually in… but what’s life without some unexpectedness to keep things interesting? I think life has been quite an amazing adventure for you, Ms. Manhattan! =)

    • August 29, 2013 / 10:51 pm

      THANK YOU!!! And I couldn’t agree more – if life went according to plan, wouldn’t it be boring? It’s the unexpected twists and turns that keep us feeling alive and well 🙂