on being 21.

Considering that I turn the big two-one today I thought maybe I would take a little break from studying for my finals and do a little reflecting (or procrastinating). Sorry if it gets a little dorky – I am my mother’s child ;).

This is about the most anticlimactic twenty-first birthday anyone could experience. First of all, I am in a country where drinking is legal for me right now, not that it really matters but it sort of takes the glamour out of “21.” Second off, it is Easter. Now, I have been dreaming about the day my birthday would fall on Easter every since I got my favorite stuffed animal – “Happy Easter” sheep – when I was probably three. Well, now it has happened, but I am not celebrating it with my family and I can’t even go to church because I have to take two exams and study for a third scheduled for tomorrow. On top of everything I am missing the premier of the third season of Game of Thrones – obviously the worst part. Before you start feeling really bad for me though I should probably mention that I am in Africa (in case you didn’t know) and that I am headed for the Serengeti on Tuesday… Happy Birthday Me! Oh and we get to slaughter a goat for Easter… what? I don’t know.

21. What a number. I guess it is supposed to mark a transition from childhood to adulthood (at least theoretically), and I think it is symbolic that during this birthday I am on my own in a foreign country. So many people and so many experiences have influenced my life. My family, for one, will always hold my heart in their hands. My friends will always have my unconditional gratitude. Everyone from the Theater, my education, my places of work and the church have placed their marks upon who I am.

I know 21 is just a number, and usually my birthdays feel like nothing more than that, but having exams really brings a feeling of transition to it this year. After tomorrow we will be done with classes for the semester, heading to the Serengeti and then returning to carry out our Directed Research Projects. I changed so much in the last year and years before that but I think I changed the most in the last month and a half. Today marks a transition from discovering what I want out of the next stage of my life to actually actively pursuing it. Africa has shown me the importance of practicing communication and patience but above all it has shown me the power of appreciation. I am beyond blessed for the last 21 years of my life and this experience in Africa – so thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who made this possible and who had a part in shaping who I am today.

Let’s go 21.


My birthday’s still look like this.


learning to communicate.


tribal experiences.


  1. Dorothy Bowie

    Happy Birthday, Emily! When I first held you in my arms, I had great plans for you. YOU have certainly exceeded anything I had in mind. Cheers to you on your 21st! and welcome to adulthood. It’s a grand journey. Hugs…Mom (sniff…sniff…sniff…I am so proud of you)

  2. Dorothy Bowie

    I would also add “daycare” to your list of influences. You couldn’t have had a better “second home”! I am grateful for Karen as well. :-)

  3. Karen

    I’m crying right now!

  4. Linda Dupuis

    Happy Birthday Emily! I hope you birthday is wonderful!

  5. I couldn’t be prouder that you are my niece. I love you Em! Happy Birthday! xoxo

  6. Carrie Emmerson

    Happy Birthday, Emily! Soak it all in. :)

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