My 34th Birthday Party at Three Dots and a Dash

34 Things I Love About Me

Reflection on turning 34 and a party at Three Dots and a Dash.

My 34th Birthday Party at Three Dots and a Dash

My 34th Birthday Party at Three Dots and a Dash

I’m sometimes called out about how negative I can be. And I get it: my blog can be kind of a downer. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have a totally amazing life full of good food, friends, and experiences. It’s mostly just that I use writing as a way to make sense of things, and usually you don’t have to make sense of happy things. Happy things are happy things. Negative things are more complicated. Negative things need to be worked through. Negative things need attention. And, for me, writing is the way to do that.

But happy things deserve attention too.

Last week I celebrated my birthday. My 34th birthday. My thirties have been, so far, quite frankly, amazing. Since turning thirty four years ago I’ve finally started to come into my own, to find myself, to lose myself, however you want to see it. Every year I’ve become more and more of the person I always wanted to be. Not changed, but refined, upgraded.

I traveled for two and a half years of my thirties so far. I’ve had more than my share of romances. I started learning guitar and drawing. I took cooking lessons. I took dance lessons. I have a career I love. And I have amazing friends who come out on a Monday night in January weather to celebrate my birthday with me (and drink amazing tiki cocktails at Three Dots and a Dash).

And so in honor of my thirty-fourth birthday, I decided to write a totally narcissistic post on thirty four things I love about me…


1. When I put my mind to things, amazing things follow.
It’s something I forget sometimes. Because I’m lazy and have am plagued by a shit ton of anxiety so I give up before I have a chance to succeed or fail (wait, I’m supposed to be being positive here aren’t I…). But, when I actually push through those things, magic happens.


2. That I quit my job to travel. When I was 30.
A lot of people would never have the kind of courage to leave everything behind at thirty to travel the world. Especially when they’ve got a good thing going on back home. But I did it. People say I’m brave all the time and I say that I’m not. But yes, I guess I am kind of brave.


3. That I’m a good cook.
Maybe not Top Chef quality, but I can make a mean sweet and sour shrimp.


4. The way my face scrunches when I smile.
Have you ever seen me smile? My face bunches up into a million wrinkles. It took me a long time to appreciate that.


5. That I have an unhealthy obsession with pink.
Pink hair. Pink phone. Pink blog.


6. That I constantly want to better myself.
I love signing up for random classes to learn new things. Guitar. Drawing. Cooking.


7. That I can dance.
I am pretty awesome on the dance floor.


8. That I am unashamed in my love for all things sweet.
Doughnuts, milkshakes, ice cream, brownies, cookies. Just bring me chocolate. Now.


9. That I don’t take anything too seriously.
You have to be able to laugh through it all.


10. That I look best straight out of bed.
OK, you may not agree with this. But me + slept in hair + faded makeup = hot. Of course, I usually shower that away because it also = greasy.


11. That I’ve competed onstage at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
I may have come in last place. But I competed in the biggest eating event of the year.


12. That I was undefeated at high jump on my eighth grade track team.
A fact that I still brag about to this day.


13. That all I wear is fuzzy socks.
Because why would anyone want to wear non fuzzy socks?!?!


14. That I take things too far…in a good way.
When I get excited about something I get overly excited about it to the point where I take stupid jokes way too far. Like that time I started a fan club for someone at my high school, membership cards and all. You know, totally normal things like that.


15. I like to think I’m funny.
You think so too, right? RIGHT?!?!?


16. That I’m a 34 year old who is totally not ashamed to read Baby-Sitters Club books on the train.
And cry over them. Because I definitely cry while reading Baby-Sitters Club books on the train.


17. That when I’m alone I spend most of my time dancing around and singing.


18. That I prefer the girliest cocktails ever over beer.
I like that about me. My credit card statement does not.


19. That I am totally fine not wearing makeup.
I often forget to even think about looking at my face before I go to work.


20. But that I’m also really into being girly.
Sometimes I just like cute dresses and bright lipstick. And mascara.


21. My tattoos. And my nose ring.
I got my first tattoo at 20 and my nose pierced at 21 and have never regretted either.


22. That I got to see New Kids on The Block in concert.
20 years too late. But I totally saw them live.


23. That I’ve seen over 100 roadside attractions.
Probably more. But I don’t count.


24. That I face my fears.
OK, so I may never bungee jump. But I push myself to do a lot of things that I’m afraid of doing.


25. That I’m a pretty decent photographer.
I mean, come on. 😉


26. That my writing kicks ass.
I mean, come on. 😉


27. That I’ve always lived life on my own terms.
I’ve always been the weird one. The one who chooses her own path. The one who refuses to be just like everyone else.


28. That I wear my heart on my sleeve.
Some may call me over emotional. And I may cry at the drop of a pin. But I love that about me anyways.


29. That I’m damn good at my job.
I really kind of am.


30. That I’ve been to more countries than most people will go to in their lifetime.
Despite not having gotten a passport until I turned 25.


31. That I’m always up for an adventure.
Ask me if I want to go someplace and I’ll probably say yes.


32. That I don’t look 34.
I’m totally fine with my age. But I’m also totally fine that no one things I’m out of my twenties.


33. That I have amazing people in my life who never question what I’m doing with my life.
Seriously. I hear so many people complain that their friends and family don’t support or understand their desires to travel and lead more unconventional lives. And I’ve never had anyone in my life question me.


34. That I have amazing friends who would come out to drink with me on Monday night in January.
‘Nuff said.



34 Things I Love About Me. Reflection on turning 34 and a party at Three Dots and a Dash.
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What's your favorite thing about me? ;-)

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Jen P
    January 26, 2015at2:29 pm

    We have so many of these in common. I’m totally with you on 17. Also, it’s not narcissistic, I think this is great. We totally need to not be hard on ourselves sometimes and really look at why we shine. And you, girl, shine brightly!

  • VK1
    January 26, 2015at2:46 pm

    I love your list. Happy Belated!

  • Tom @ Waegook Tom
    January 27, 2015at2:06 am

    I love that you were able to tolerate me while I was still pretty much an emotional wreck in the UK after breaking up with my bf. Seriously, I was all over the place, and I love that you didn’t call me out on my crappy hosting. We need to go out and drink girly cocktails (for I love them, too) when there’s a significantly lower probability of me sobbing in a gay club. Which is pretty much anytime.

    Also, I had no idea that you didn’t have a passport until you turned 25! Look at you now, Ms. World Travelling Adventurous Lady. Happy birthday, and I love that you wrote this and that there are so many things that you love about yourself, although I am a bit jealous of you not looking your age. I have the exact opposite issue. Oh well!

  • Taylor
    January 27, 2015at5:16 am

    See, this is why I totally stalk your blog and kinda also your twitter in the hopes of us actually meeting on the road one day. Because I have not a single doubt in my mind that we would both thoroughly enjoy drinking cocktails together and talking about weird things or funny things or whatever things because it doesn’t matter because we’re both weird and crazy and awesome but only (mostly) in the good ways. Happy birthday girl I continue to plan on being friends with!

  • rebecca
    January 27, 2015at3:07 pm

    great post! something we should all think about some times

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