On Saturday, I turned 29.

I wanted to boycott my birthday this year. I have a lot of my mind. You wouldn’t guess that. My Instagram and FB page make my life seem fun and easy. It’s not. Nobody’s life ever is what it seems online – that’s why it’s so important to care about people offline.

That’s why I realized the best person to spend my 29th birthday with was a person who wouldn’t let me sulk in my own blahness – he’d yell at me until I smiled and laughed – and realized I was being ridiculous.

That’s why I spent it with my best friend, Ray, who is 86.

Except right as I went to hug him hello, I realized the last time I saw him was when I gave him my book & figured he’d read it eventually – like years from now – or something.

I was nervous for him to read the book because he’s IN THE BOOK and it’s never easy thinking about how people will react to them being on the pages of a book thousands of people (hopefully) will read.

But there he was, demanding me to sit down, and I figured great – it’s my 29th birthday and Ray is going to scream at me until I’m red in the face about writing a chapter on him.

“I have to tell you,” he begins, slowly and seriously.

“You read the book and…” I try to talk before he has the chance to say anything else.

“You should be very proud of yourself. I can’t remember the last time I read something so…so….honest, raw, hilarious. You truly cut yourself open and let everyone see who you really are and what you are about. It’s scary to do that. I laughed the whole way through and I would not lie to you, you know that.”

I checked my pulse. My heart was racing and my body was in shock. I wondered if age 29 was too young to have a heart attack. I wondered if Ray would laugh at me If I fainted. Who am I kidding? He probably would.

“But how could you relate to a book about my life and being a bridesmaid?” I shot back, trying to downplay the greatest compliment I’ve ever had  someone tell me.

“It’s not a book about that,” he said. “It’s a book about being human and everyone can relate to that.”

I’ve been going through a lot lately. You wouldn’t know, but I have. Yet there I was, on my 29th birthday, hearing a man who is 86 saying he laughed, cried and held onto the lessons in my book more than anything he can remember reading. And he meant it – because if you know Ray, you know he doesn’t have the ability to lie.

“Well, what about the chapter on you?” I asked. “Are you mad at me for writing about you?”

“Mad?” He replied. “No. I had no idea I made such a difference in your life.”

Perhaps most people in our lives don’t know until we tell them or we write a chapter about them and have thousands of people (hopefully) read it.

Anyway, this year I learned the best gift a person can give you isn’t a physical gift like a new purse or pair of shoes – it’s simple simple like a hug, a letter, or a compliment from a person who reminds you to be proud of an accomplishment you haven’t taken the time to acknowledge.

My love,
The 29-year-old version of Jen Glantz

PS. Want a copy of the book at half the price? Check it out. 

I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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