Notes to self, birthday edition

Erica Zendell
Aug 1, 2017 · 4 min read

​I often take time to reflect — at least once a month in the writing of blog posts — but I reflect the most around December/January and June/July: I use the end of the year to take stock of the previous year, envision possibilities for the new year, and set resolutions. I use the middle of the year not only to reevaluate the ideas and goals I had for myself back in January but also to make birthday wishes: I think of where I want to be in my life — physically, emotionally, spiritually — and wish for what it’ll take for me to get there by next year, when I’m a year older.

I document these wishes by way of an annual practice: writing myself birthday cards each year. I read the card I wrote to myself last year and write myself a new card to read next year. I do this for Valentine’s Day, too. In both cases, I am guaranteed to have a card on these occasions from someone other than direct family that makes me feel loved*

Last July’s card had me wishing for two things — professional success at Wayfair and personal fulfillment in my relationship.**

Some excerpts:

“I hope you’ve gone from feeling shaky, confused, and insecure to confident, at ease, and killing it on the job…and that your success with Joss and Main propels you to renown around the company, even to the C-suite”

“I wish you continued happiness, love, and adventure in your relationship…Did you make it back to Miami? To Hong Kong and Shanghai?”

The former happened, more or less — I made some amazing friends during my time working on Storefront Product, and my work got some measure of C-suite renown largely coming from getting to build and launch Wayfair’s newest site, Perigold with my team. Amusingly, by the time my birthday rolled around and I read the card, I had left Wayfair and was days away from staring an awesome new opportunity at SAP.

The latter also happened, but with a catch. We both found some combination of happiness, love, and adventure — speaking for myself, at least, I found it through dear friends, a jiujitsu gym, and trips to LA, SF, Chicago, and around New England. I eventually made it to Miami and he got to Hong Kong and Shanghai. We just weren’t together when any of it happened.

Here’s where things get even more interesting.

Back in December, I was convinced I had lost the birthday card I had written myself in July 2016 for July 2017, so I wrote myself a new birthday card in December 2016 for July 2017. In the end, I found the first card, so I ended up with two cards for myself this birthday.

Because of where I was emotionally in December, the card had nothing to do with wishes for work. It was purely about the state of my heart. The shining piece was this:

“I want to remind you that no matter your relationship status that you are loved…You have so many people who love and believe in you and downright adore you. You deserve a man in your life who treats you and your golden heart with that level of care. Let’s be honest here. You’ve dated men who think you are beautiful. You’ve dated men who think you are intelligent. You’ve dated men who respect you and even love you. But you’ve never dated someone who truly adored you, and that is something you deserve.”

Wholly unexpectedly, I have reason to believe that this happened, too. And instead of finding reasons to doubt it, question it, challenge it, undermine it, and self-sabotage it, I’m allowing myself more than my usual flicker of joy. I’m pleased to report — much to my own surprise and despite the rampant global chaos — that I am netting out at a state of happiness. I can only hope that by the time I reflect this time next year that I will have lived up to the last line of that December 2016 card — and not just by watching GoT or doing the whole bit with the Seven Kingdoms:

“The power and crown are yours, Queen. Now go into your next year on the globe and take the throne.”

*I should note that I love my mother, grandmother, and aunt, for keeping Hallmark in business and making me feel loved by way of snail mail, among many other reasons.

**I also wrote in the card, “Remember never to waste a good mistake.” On Facebook, per a challenge I ended up documenting two-and-a-half months of mistakes. With the exception of a lame status or two, those mistakes didn’t completely go to waste. I also made plenty of mistakes offline, most notably the execution of my job switch and countless things involving men last year.

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