Today is my first day back to reality after an absolutely amazing six-day “vacation.” Although I didn’t travel anywhere warm or exotic…I spent the last few days relaxing with friends, family and my absolutely wonderful fiancé as a way of celebrating my 23rd birthday.

In the last six days I have spent an afternoon painting pottery, sat four rows back – dead center – at the John F. Kennedy Center to watch a beautiful ballet, savored every drop of gnocchi gorgonzola at one of my favorite restaurants in Philly, spent an entire afternoon with my little brother touring the City of Brotherly Love, enjoyed a sleepover with one of my best friends, went to a shooting range and managed to not harm anyone around me, enjoyed a fantastic birthday dinner with some of my favorite people on earth and spent quality time with my family over a home cooked meal and one of my sister’s famous birthday cakes.

I’d call that a fantastic birthday, wouldn’t you? Bonus fun fact: by this time next year I’ll be married and will be celebrating as Mrs. Niki Ianni-Young (yes… I’m hyphenating. There’s no way I’m giving up my last name!)

I really love birthdays. People around me say that won’t last long once I hit my thirties and forties, because then its “all downhill from there.” I beg to differ. I like to think of each year as another milestone. Milestones full of lessons learned and fantastic memories…with each new year full of potential and promise, to continue to grow myself both personally and professionally. I think the notion of dreading another birthday because it means another wrinkle, or another gray hair or another year of lost youth is ridiculous. Think of it instead as another laugh line, more experience and gained wisdom instead.

With that said, here’s to 23. I hope it is full of more laughs, more love and more memories than ever before. Thanks to everyone who helped make it special.

Also – I promise to not take any more ridiculous breaks from updating this thing.

I leave you with this great post from Thought Catalog on 25 Things To Do Before You Turn 25.

Personal favorites?

6. Try not to beat yourself up over having obtained a ‘useless’ Bachelor’s Degree. Debt is hell, and things didn’t pan out quite like you expected, but you did get to go to college, and having a degree isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. We will figure this mess out, I think, probably; the point is you’re not worth less just because there hasn’t been an immediate pay off for going to school. Be patient, work with what you have, and remember that a lot of us are in this together.

13. Find a hobby that makes being alone feel lovely and empowering and like something to look forward to.

16. Identify your fears and instead of letting them dictate your every move, find and talk to people who have overcome them. Don’t settle for experiencing .000002% of what the world has to offer.


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