Today is your 20th birthday.
I have known about you for 17 years. I feel like I have loved you forever…since the beginning of time.
I’m not gonna lie to you, Jenna. When you were a little girl, you kinda drove me crazy. We’re so close in age, and I felt more often like you were my little sister than my niece. You wanted to be near me every second, and I didn’t think it was very “cool” to have such a little girl following me around. The word “cool” is in “” because I don’t actually know if I have ever been cool a day in my life.
Which leads me to my next point…
I’m not gonna lie to you, Jenna. When you were a teenager, I was a little bit scared of you. There were times when it was me who felt like the younger one. You knew the coolest bands and had good fashion sense. I was always convinced that you were judging me, even though I should have had the confidence to not care. But I did. And I was also pretty jealous of the fact that you looked up to “Uncle Nick”. You two had the brother-sister relationship I always wanted with him, and I felt like even though he is only 4 years older than you, that he was a better uncle than I was an aunt. I started to wish we could go back to the time when you were a little girl following me around…I wish I had known back then that I would totally miss having you look up to me.
And then, somewhere along the way, you stopped driving me crazy, you stopped being a teenager, you stopped intimidating me and you started to become one of the people I admire most in this whole world.
You’re smart and you’re funny. And you’re a good listener and you’re an amazing writer. You’re beautiful and you’re worthy of love.
It’s crazy how lucky I feel to be in your life. But I still don’t feel like an aunt. First of all, you have never called me that which is fine. But more than that, I feel like I have somehow failed you. I have never been there for you to cry on my shoulder. I have never heard your deepest secrets, dreams, and fears. I didn’t even know about your heartache until you wrote it on my blog. And I have never come to your rescue when you needed someone to come get you in the night.
Jenna, I am so sorry about that.
This past year has been wonderful as we have definitely become closer than we ever have been before. I know that there were things that needed to be resolved, truths that needed to be told, light shed on much darkness. It wasn’t for lack of wanting or trying to be your aunty, and I hope you know that. All those years that went by where we didn’t speak, please don’t think it was because I didn’t want you.
You are now in your 20’s and even though you might not feel any older today than you were yesterday, this is a big deal. Your 20’s are going to rock your world, I can feel it in my bones. Who you are now is going to start spiralling, evolving, developing, solidifying and best of all…settling. Gone are those hormonal, confusing, complicated and damaging feelings of “who am I”. You will still wonder from time to time who exactly you are, and so you should. It’s healthy. But thankfully, it gets a bit easier now.
I’m very excited to see what this year brings, not to mention the ones to come. You are going to do great things, you are going to have grand adventures, and you are going to bring light and love to lives that you don’t even know exist yet. Are you pumped?
Jenna, don’t live your life in a box. Dream things that scare you. Take risks that terrify you. Befriend someone who annoys you. Think about things that make you uncomfortable. And let’s help each other to start finding love in all the RIGHT places. How does that sound?
I don’t have a gift for you, Jenna. Not unless you count my devotion to you. A 7 year age-gap makes it hard for you to be able to see me as your aunt, so let’s just drop that. How about an older sister/friend/family member who cares deeply for your mind, body, soul and heart? I’m here for you. Please know it.
Today is your 20th birthday. That’s 20 candles which means 20 wishes. Make ’em good ones, Jenners.
You. Are. Loved.