As I lie here, about to go to sleep, most of my friends are readying themselves for fireworks displays. I’m a bit disappointed I had to call it an early night due to an early check-up on my newly-damaged car, but I’m only disappointed because, like a child, I love sparkly fireworks.

All my life, my 4th of July has been celebrated in all sorts of fashions. For the first few years–or at least the first I could remember–I was always sick. Then, I spent a few times watching the fireworks at the local park in Wenatchee. My college year celebrations varied, with some trips home, some televised shows, and some trips to my then-boyfriend’s hometown for a celebration that always happened on the 3rd of July. Two years ago, I was beat from a full day of wedding festivities for a friend the day before and called it an early night. Last year (and I kind of blanked on it earlier today–texted my realization to a few people!), I was in Tobago, in the Caribbean. Nothing follows a predictable pattern.

This year, I spent the day relaxing at home and then took the bus to a friend’s house, where I spent the remainder of the afternoon socializing. I even got to talk Trinidad with someone who had been there within months of me. I had to jet early due to an early morning tomorrow, so I watched a live stream of the Vancouver, WA fireworks and spliced it with my Spotify playlists on shuffle when I realized that the stream’s sound wasn’t working.

It was perfect.

I do not thrive on the predictable. The universe keeps throwing little reminders my way. I sometimes find myself wanting a lifestyle that is routine, and in others’ eyes, perfect.

But then I find myself with a thousand variables, each with a unique outcome, and I now realize that those unknowns are not meant to scare me, but to drive me onward.

I am happy for friends that do whatever it takes to spend a certain holiday together and for my coupled friends that have traditions for anniversaries and other holidays. However, I need something different.

This Independence Day, I realized that I really am free, free to be myself and to pursue happiness in its beautiful and unique form.

I hope all of you had a day full of laughter and a night full of fireworks.

And one last thing? Thank you for being you.