By Kate Shea
Distinguished Young Woman of Montana for 2013
Today was a real milestone for me. Not only did I turn nineteen, but it was my first birthday away from home. For weeks, I’ve been counting down the days to my birthday, marking it down all of my calendars, and annoying my friends with my consistent daily countdown reminder. The strange thing is that I’m not usually that excited for my birthday, but this year something was different.
This year I didn’t have a birthday slumber party with all of my friends. This year I didn’t start my morning with a high school locker cheaply donned with streamers. This year I didn’t wake up to presents from my parents and little sister. This year I threw tradition to the wind as I celebrated my birthday in an all new adult way.
I began the morning with a Journalism 100 midterm and ended my afternoon with a discussion of truth in politics. Luckily, going to school close to home meant that my mom could make the drive over to celebrate with me. We picked out a dress for my upcoming sorority formal and grabbed gourmet pizza with my grandparents for dinner. It wasn’t my traditional birthday fare, in fact it was surprisingly low key for all the anticipation I built up, but it was perfect all the same.
It is only now that I realize what I was really looking forward to with my all my birthday excitement. It was all of the Facebook posts and text messages from my friends at college far away telling me how much they missed me and how they couldn’t wait to meet up over Christmas break. Being able to reconnect and celebrate with my friends, even if it wasn’t in the same way we might have back in high school, was the best birthday present I could have received.
I know now that I was looking forward to talking to those people I’d left behind as we all went off to college. My birthday may not have been the big hullabaloo it was in high school, but it provided a wonderful chance to reconnect with friends and experience yet another vital college first.
Kate Shea is a college freshman at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana majoring in Journalism. Originally from Helena, Montana, Kate was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Montana for 2013. Learn more about Kate here!