Surprise, you’re 21! 🎉

by Pauline on July 2nd 2017

On the 24th of June, I turned 21.

My birthday this year was one I wanted to remember years down the road so I naturally I booked a trip to the city of my dreams. Because YES, I am THAT extra. But why not though? Live life to the fullest!

I celebrated turning 21 in New York with Matt.

View on the Hornblower cruise. More about my New York adventure soon~

My birthday was 29 hours this year (adding up US and UK time zones! 😆)

I didn’t have much planned myself, the only thing I really wanted to do was watch a Broadway show because I mean, that’s one of the main things you HAVE to do when you’re in New York, right? One of my colleagues had mentioned that I could purchase cheap tickets at Times Square, so most of my morning plans were to line up and buy one for the afternoon show that day.

Matt had different plans though. 😅

He surprised me with two front row tickets that morning so that we didn’t have to line up AND a bonus: we would get an awesome view of the performance. It was such a thoughtful surprise and a great way to start my day, no doubt!

Morning – Juice 🍇 and friendships 👯

Berry smoothies were AMAZING!

After an awesome breakfast at Joe & the Juice which by the way – has THE BEST berry smoothies ever – we headed back to the hotel where Matt surprised me yet again (this is a recurring theme throughout this post!) with the most wonderful birthday gift ever.

He created a booklet that had all my friends from different groups (from my Code First: Girls gang to BMS friends and blogging gals) all wishing me a happy birthday and leaving incredibly kind messages. I cried, laughed and smiled (seriously guys my face really hurt the whole day) It’s funny because I hadn’t ever received a card with lots of people signing it before my colleagues did recently for my birthday.

I remember mentioning this to Matt a few weeks ago! He told me that he had already created it when I had said this 😂

I posted a sped up version on Twitter and Instagram of my reaction but you can watch it in full below:

 

Skip for specific groups:
CF:G – Darren (1:25), Sophia (2:10), Tejay (2:55), Madawi (3:15), Louise (3:42), Esther (4:01), Jen (4:17), Lakshika (4:34), Camile (5:02), Esra (5:45)
BMS – Ploy (6:02), Hebe (6:38), Pete (7:20), Ioanna (7:35), Sarah (7:48)
Blogging – Georgie (7:55), Holly (9:15), Micah (9:55), Fran (10:30)

I’m really thankful for the effort Matt put into this but also to everyone who took part, I think it’s evident in the video how happy/overwhelmed I was. (I literally could not speak because I had this huge lump in my throat?? I WAS SO EMOTIONAL????)

I’m struggling to put into words how I felt that morning but it was just full of love, appreciation and happiness. Thank you 💓

Afternoon – Broadway 🎭

After I cried away my make-up, we made our way down to Broadway to see Anastasia. I absolutely loved the animation when I was younger, I had two different versions one on DVD and one on VHS (wow, #throwback) both the same story but different adaptations. I hadn’t watched a live theatre performance since I was in my drama class at school so I was pretty excited!

Anastasia – Animated film

*cries*

This is a photo of me trying to blend in with the set. Yes, I am Grand Duchess, Anastasia Nikolaevna.

It definitely was an experience, seeing them so close was magical – every single one of them looked exactly like the real life version of the animation! I think I fell in love with Dimitri too, or at least the actor.

The finale

I had tears and goosebumps throughout. Matt said he got quite emotional too.

During the songs, I tried not to sing too much (especially during Journey to the past, gahh) and end up ruining the actual performance. I have to admit that was the most difficult thing I ever had to do! 🎤

The show finished at around 5 pm. There was an opportunity to see the actors at the end outside the theatre but as we had front row seats, we were one of the last out so we didn’t get to see them with all the crowds of people.  😅

You can watch the “trailer” for the Broadway show here if you’re interested!

Evening – The View 🍽🍸

We headed out to dinner, where Matt took me to a rooftop rotating restaurant just a block from Broadway. It was incredibly fancy to the point I felt a little out of place most of the time, but the food was really filling and the whole experience of eating your food then looking up to see a totally different setting (not only outside but inside) was fun!

The View, Broadway

Starter

Dessert

As we were having dinner, I was complimenting the view when Matt then said, “after this, you’ll get the best view!” I had been led to think for ages that we were going up another building to see a different view of NYC but boy was I wrong. 😆

Manhattan ➡ New Jersey ➡ 🛩

Next thing I know, I’m in a car to New Jersey. Then at an airport in New Jersey. Then looking in horror at a tiny plane and listening to one of our two pilots saying, “it’s a small plane so you might feel the wind hitting it a bit more. It can get bumpy. But here’s a sick bag.”

N o p e. 😷

So Matt’s final surprise was a plane ride across New York to get a bird’s-eye view of NYC. Best view I’d ever get right? YEP BUT NOPE was my initial reaction. As you guys know, I have always had really bad anxiety when it comes to travelling. Getting to New York, Portugal, France and Amsterdam have been my biggest achievements this year so far, overcoming my anxiety is hard work but I prove it to myself time and time again that I can do it, but at that moment, could I get on a TINY plane and fly over NYC as the sun set?

Hell no yes.

Matt took a video of my reaction and of the flight, watch it below if you’re interested:

 

Initially, I was terrified. My fears and worse case scenarios filling my mind. But as soon as we got up there, I let go and locked my gaze at the beautiful city below me.

Yeah, there were tears. Lots of them.

I wasn’t in staring at my computer screen, wishing I was in NYC, I was right there.

I wasn’t wishing that I had a drone so I could fly it above the skyscrapers in NYC to get a bird’s eye view of the city. I WAS THE DRONE.

I wasn’t in the office playing with the HTC Vive flying over NYC, I was right there.

I was overwhelmed and so so so incredibly thankful for the experience. Matt had said he was worried that I would hate it and hate him for organising it but it was single handily made my NYC trip the experience of a lifetime.

Matt and I flying over Manhattan ✈️

Tiny plane, tiny people, big city, even bigger world. 😍

As we were landing back in New Jersey, it was getting darker and I watched the lights turn on across the city. It was so fucking beautiful.

And as I always say after overcoming my fears, “HEY CAN WE DO THAT AGAIN!??!?!?”

Night – Empire State Building 🏙

I told Matt how I wanted to see the city awake in the dark so once we got back to Manhattan, we went up the Empire State Building where we got to experience another view of NYC, at night. This was something that I had only dreamed of before, a view I’d see in movies or on my wall as a poster.

It didn’t disappoint in real life. 😍

Storytime: A tourist (from Australia, I LOVED HER ACCENT 🐨) asked us when we were heading back down if I was the girl who managed to get really nice photos up the Empire State Building 😆 Matt had come prepared with taking photos at low light – he brought a little light that you can stick on your phone so that you always have perfect lighting where ever you go 😂

She was really impressed by this and said that she’s going to buy one herself so that her photos would turn out good too. Props to you, Matt! 😝

It was then I realised that we might’ve attracted too much attention but HEY DID I TELL YOU IT’S MY BIRTHDAY TODAY?!

 

Turning 21 🎂🎈

My 21st birthday was definitely one I won’t ever forget. I always talk about how grateful I am for all the love and support from everyone in my space in real life and online and so this might not sound all that different but honestly, THANK YOU all for making my day so special. If I could hug you all I would but for now *virtual hug*

A big shout out to Matt for being wonderful. You make me the happiest. 😁

Since turning 20, I encountered the biggest changes, lost a lot, entered a path of uncertainty, hit rock bottom a few times with my anxieties worsening but going into 21, I refused to stay where I was. In the last year, I regained my focus and have achieved so much personally and professionally. I have changed, definitely. I eat kale now, I like flying planes, I openly talk about my coding abilities without fear of judgement, I kick butt when I work out, I smile even more, who knew that would even be possible? 😆 I’m also much more confident in myself and damn, I have learned to love and accept myself head to toe. Seriously, gal (@ myself) digits pleassssee!!!?

Although I’ve grown a lot, I still think I’m a long lost Disney Princess, eat plenty of Italian food (#bulking), laugh at Hamdah’s Yorkshire accent, and as usual, appreciative of everything and everyone so that y’all hear it loud and clear.

Another year older, another year wiser, eh?

A year older, but I will still wear dungarees that are identical to the ones I had when I was younger 😆Photo taken by my sister/mom: Hamdah, y’know in Amsterdam.

I made my birthday wish on the last hour of my birthday. It wasn’t the same one I had since I was seven anymore because, on the 24th of June 2017, I made it happen.


Posted under: Explaw🐾, Life, Personal


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19 comments

  1. Eena says:

    I love love love love this entry, Pauline. I’m so glad you had a fantastic birthday! Kudos to Matt for the endless surprises. Here’s to fantastic year ahead of you ♥

    (Also, my brother’s birthday is on June 24th as well!)

    • Matt says:

      It was a massive joy to see in person the surprise and raw emotion coming from Pauline. Thank you so much for the kudos but the pleasure was truly mine. The feelings experienced were a gift for both her and myself. I was graced with the experience of strong happiness from the person I love, and for that I am so so happy 😊
      She is a pleasure to surprise. Her love for gratitude will get her so far. Seeing her express it to everyone around the world was so satisfying, reminding me so strongly why I love her 😊

  2. Cassidy says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Pauline! It looks like you had a wonderful time in New York and I’m so glad your 21st was one that you’ll never forget. It’s so cool to see you get spoiled and you deserve all of it!

    Your trip on the plane made me think back to my 16th birthday when I went up in a helicopter and saw the mountains of Tennessee. I didn’t really have any anxieties about it because I’ve always loved heights and flying in general. But I had the same positive reactions you did.

  3. Nancy says:

    Happy belated birthday, Pauline!!!! It’s so cool that you got to celebrate your birthday during a vacation1 Haha, you got to celebrate your birthday for an extended time ;).

    Shoot, those juices look super delicious. Matt is so sweet for treating you like the princess you are~ His booklet is legit! I love your reaction throughout the video. Glad to hear that you enjoyed watching Anastasia on Broadway! Matt knows how to make you happy ;).

    OmMGGggGGg a rotating restaurant is the place to be! You don’t need to be stuck with just one view, you get a 360* of the city!!! (Of some sort XD). The dessert looks so fancy.

    Woah, the little plane ride looks legit! The view of the city is amazingGG!!! This was the perfect way to spend your birthday! You deserved all of it and plenty of happiness. You’re such a sweet soul, Pauline. Stay true to yourself, always!

    I think you’ve grown a lot over the past year and I’m proud of all of your achievements :). I think the most important thing is that at the end of the day, you’re doing this for yourself – for a better future and a happy life :). Don’t let anyone say otherwise! (Or if they do, they can go bathe in misery or something lol).

  4. Micah Lee says:

    Oh my gosh your birthday looked AMAZING! I’m so glad you both had a fabulous time.
    AND MATT, YOU’RE THE SWEETEST HUMAN BEING I SWEAR! Well done – where did you learn your tricks from?! lol.

    Pauline honestly, you are the happiest, most positive, motivated girl I know. Your good vibes bounced onto other people and that’s why everyone loves you so much. You deserved this amazing birthday and more. Props to Matt for the wonderful day he organised for you.

    (ALSO, your mixture of videos and pictures made me feel like i was experiencing your birthday with you!)

    Stay beautiful you queen! Love you lots xx

  5. Hamdahhh says:

    What i love about your blog is the translation between the stories you’ve told me irl to how it’s written. You always manage to maintain the same enthusiasm you have when you tell me in person on your blogs and i love that. It’s a shame i couldn’t celebrate it with you but i did in spirit! I’m so proud of you, love you and can’t wait for many more awesome birthdays! Can you outdo this one? 😭

  6. Deanna says:

    It sounds like an amazing birthday! You have a pretty special guy there to plan all those adventures for you. Can’t wait to see what your next dream destination is!

  7. Holly says:

    I’m not gonna lie, I cried a little while watching the video of you reading book. (I’m a hormonal mess at the moment and buying a house hasn’t helped!!) I was so happy when Matt contacted me to write a little message. It was such a thoughtful idea.

    He’s a keeper. 😉

    It sounds like you had the most incredible 21st birthday. One to remember, for sure!

    We actually have a Joe & the Juice in Liverpool but I’ve never been before. This needs to change!

    I’m one of those people who sings along when I watch musicals! Sorry not sorry! I’m glad you enjoyed the show. I need to check out what’s on Broadway at the moment. Tyrone hates musicals, so maybe we will give it a miss. We’ve timed our trip to New York so badly because a couple of days after we leave Pete Townshend will be in New York to perform Classic Quadrophenia (it’s my favourite Who album) and I’m kicking myself!

    I would be sh*tting myself in a plane that small. I hate flying as it is! You were so brave to do it but it looks like the view was worth it.

  8. Kya says:

    This is so absolutely amazing and I am so pleased that you were able to go on this trip and have such a great time. It sounds like it was a fantastic way to spend your birthday. 💖 I am really happy for you and everything you have been able to achieve and look forward to much more in the future! 💖

  9. Elise says:

    omg this is super late but happy belated birthday! omg part 2: i always forget that you are a year younger than me like whaaa- how is this even possible that you’re a year younger than me but you be slayin all your workout and just basically slaaaays day and night. damn i feel like a potato now :))

    guuurl, dat matt guy sure does know how to make you happy (winkwink)
    i’m so happy to read this. i’m also happy to hear how happy you are with matt 😀

    again, happy belated birthday!

  10. Amy says:

    Aww, Pauline. This is one of the loveliest posts I’ve ever read. Your 21st birthday sounds so amazing. You definitely deserved such a wonderful day after working so hard all year!

    I can’t believe Matt surprised you with the front row tickets. That’s so cute. And that book he made you is lovely, I loved watching your reaction to it on Instagram. It’s so brilliant to see you so happy.

    I’m so anxious about travelling too. You’ve definitely inspired me to just do it though. I’ve been slowly working towards longer journeys, so hopefully I’ll be brave enough to get on a plane in the near future. I’ve never been on one before and the thought terrifies me. I definitely wouldn’t have got in that tiny plane!

    That food you had looks amazing. That dessert is so pretty!

    Glad you had such a wonderful birthday!

  11. Gillan says:

    Aww, that is hands down the best birthday surprise I have ever read about! I know you already had one but nevertheless, happy belated birthday!
    Seeing you happy makes us, your readers, happy. Thank you for spending the good vibes around the internet 😊
    I’m glad you do what you do and you keep doing them, okurr? 💖
    The dinner looked lovely but I can’t believe he flew you over Manhattan! What a dream!
    Also, I’m so jealous of you seeing Anastasia! 😂😍

  12. Cat says:

    Aahh, that looks like the best birthday ever! Big kudos to Matt for planning so many things for you and making it such a special occasion! The booklet is such a sweet idea, and it’s a great gift to have and look back on 🙂

    That’s amazing you had front row seats to Anastasia! I’m glad you enjoyed the show so much. I recently watched a video about the costumes for the show, and they are so beautiful and intricate. As someone who makes costumes, I would have loved to see them up close!

    Yum, the food at the restaurant looks good, especially the dessert. What a wonderful surprise to have a plane ride booked! Good job on conquering your fear of it! The views you got from the plane are amazing. Being at the Empire State building at night is also a wonderful way to end the day.

    You’ve accomplished and grown so much in the past year! I’m glad you had a great birthday!

  13. Sakura says:

    Happy belated birthday! It’s very sweet of Matt to plan so many things to celebrate your birthday. The plane ride looks really awesome too!

  14. Georgie says:

    jflkdklgjkdljgd I HAVE No WorDS JUST EXCITEMNTSSS!!!!

    Love you so much Pauline. And I can tell that Matt does too. You deserve to have been spoiled good. I’m so happy for you that all your dreams came true – visiting, seeing, and being in the heart of your dream city. Seeing you achieve so much over the past year alone has been nothing short of inspiring. Your tears brought tears to my eyes!

    Also, literally, your words in this post don’t even begin to explain what I see in your face in the videos. So you’re right haha. SO EMOTIONAL U CANNOT EVEN EXPLAINNSZZ. Also I hella love your accent haha it’s cute af. 😽

    Thank you for also sharing your experience with us. I have lived vicariously through this post and your social media posts the true experience of being in New York City. It’s not my dream city, but it’s one of the few places I want to visit when I hit the States ☺️

    On your 22nd birthday I wonder if Matt will have a hard time topping what he surprised you with for your 21st 😆 (But if he’s reading this, I also share the same pain. Sometimes I get Nick a really awesome gift and the next time a celebration rolls around I usually struggle to think of something just as good. I’m sure Matt has a shit ton of surprises up his sleeve though.)

    So glad you had the best birthday! 🎉

  15. Hiro says:

    Happy birthday! What a day! I also went to Anastasia on my birthday last month, and I loved it. What a great show! Hope you enjoyed NYC, and the endless food options we have 🙂 One of these days I’d also love to do the helicopter/mini plane trip over the city!

  16. Chynna says:

    What an amazing way to spend your 21st! Definitely memorable and I am so glad you had the most amazing time. It looks absolutely incredible <3

    You're such a cute person, PLEASE. I'M CRYING BECAUSE YOU'RE CRYING. BUT I'M SO HAPPY 😭 Your video reaction has me smiling so much!

    Also, yessss to conquering your fears 💪🏽 So proud of you, sis! At least you can say it was definitely worth it. The views look stunning.

    LYSM GAL, I'M SO HAPPY THAT I KNOW YOU <3