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:

cake

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?).

ladies

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…

besties

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.

family

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.

me

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

Friendships are not all rainbows and butterflies. Like any relationship, a friendship may sparkle like glitter and gold at the start, but the shiny exterior always chips away to reveal the true colors underneath. Everyone has some good, bad, and ugly in them. A friendship needs to be nurtured, maintained and pampered. It’s certainly not effortless. Schedules start conflicting, significant others appear on the scene, hobbies begin, interests change. Life gets in the way.

But let’s back up. In my (short) experience, there are two types of friendships – acquaintances and friends. Of course, there are many intricate levels within each type (you’re obviously closer to some people than others), but the distinction rings true regardless (at least in my life). Some people are lucky enough to have a special select few friends that carry the “best friend” title, while others go through life without knowing their friendship soul mates. Many (although not all!) of these sacred bonds form at a young age, and I was lucky enough to find my other halves thirds early on (about a decade ago). A select few other beautiful friends have made their way into my special circle and our friendship strengthens daily, but my heart will always hold my two ladies nearest. We are the three Musketeers, after all! And they have way too much blackmail on me…

Unfortunately, life truly does get in the way. People change as they get older. Clashes occur. The shiny top coat starts peeling. One of my best friends and I recently “took a break” from each other – from our friendship. Her and I are alike in so many ways – our dry humor, sarcasm, hobbies, etc. – but different in so many others. She lives life with minimal control and organization, and enjoys spontaneity and adventures. I prefer my life to be planned and organized, and random adventures sometimes stress me out. To put it simply: she’s always up for anything and everything whereas I typically say ‘no’ to anything and everything that makes me feel uncomfortable and/or stressed. And this is where the war began. It was subtle for a long time, like a thunderstorm brewing in the distance. Finally, the storm came, bringing with it a downpour of hurtful words, grudges, and friendship reconsiderations. It felt like a natural pausing point and a break appeared to be the ideal solution.

It was upsetting but eye-opening, especially when her and I reunited this past Friday at King Spa (set-up by our friends on purpose) on the eve of her birthday and we spoke for the first time in two months. They say that best friends can go on not speaking for weeks and then pick up right where they left off like no time was lost. We were absolutely no exception. Long story short – we hugged and made-up and had a 5-hour long catch-up session on life (not nearly enough time!). It was perfect timing too…her 24th birthday came at the stroke of midnight!

I’m incredibly happy and relieved that I was able to peacefully spend my best friend’s birthday with her. A small group of our closest friends gathered at The Cheesecake Factory to celebrate our special someone’s 24th year of life.

(the three Musketeers)

It was the perfect evening with the perfect group of friends.

All relationships require time, work, and effort. They may flow effortlessly some days and feel like a marathon on others, but dedication and compromise are the key to a successful and healthy friendship.

Friendships are a complicated topic – what’s your take? Should they be effortless or a constant work in progress? 

How do you categorize friendships? Are all friends created equal?

Have you ever had a falling out with a friend?

♥ Irina