Last year, as I was about to turn twenty-four, I wrote a letter to age twenty-three. Being twenty-three was (and still is) my least favorite thing in the world. In the melodramatic paragraphs (I have a lot of feelings, ok?), I looked forward to my impending twenty-four-ness:
“Mostly I’d love this next phase to be full of some of the things that you weren’t able to provide: people who ‘get’ me, natural light, more literal mountains, community, forearm stands without a wall, hands to hold, and maybe a little more noise in the form of hearty guffaws.”
I’m not one for conventional goal-setting without proper mindset-training because I think it can cause unnecessary pressure and creativity blocks and disappointment, but I had a few hopes and dreams for this year. Twenty-four listened. Every inch of my own self listened. You all listened. This year was a year for creating the type of space, time, energy and internal magic needed to make these things real. Community, mountains, east-facing rooms, natural light galore, so many hands (and a two in particular that haven’t let go), and endless laughter all flash on my dual-screen eyelids when I close them and reflect.
I don’t often feel like I’m doing the right thing.
I’m a human being and that’s probably one of our most common qualities, but it’s still unsettling to me. Society makes us feel like we could or should always be doing more or at least doing everything different. I departed from the conventional “go to college, get a job” path when I graduated in 2013 because there were some things I needed to accomplish and learn that weren’t possible from behind desks and with real paychecks.
I may speak confidently, but I’ve spent a lot of time questioning and doubting every single step I’ve taken since I graduated.
I recently accepted a job, my first “real” one (we’ll call it real for the sake of simplicity because this is the type of job society calls real). As I was standing in my apartment in disbelief in the minutes after that phone call – there has been a lot of that silent disbelief-type standing this year – a thought hit me:
I have done everything I needed to do to get to where I need to be.
I let those words diffuse into my bloodstream for a long time.
Cheryl Strayed writes, in one of my favorite advice columns in the history of the universe, Dear Sugar #64: Tiny Beautiful Things:
“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty… jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading … and wondering about … God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”
It’s hard to think of days as useless when for whatever reason, my heart pumps an endless cocktail of hope and blood, but what she wrote then in that letter to her twenty-something self always comes back to me.
These things. Are your. Becoming.
Every night I’ve cried myself to sleep, sometimes because of my heart, other times because of my head, still others because the world feels too heavy to hold. Every puppy I’ve gotten to snuggle with. Every moment I’ve sat paralyzed by anxiety when I know that I need to move. Every long, knowing glance I’ve shared with people I know well and people I’ll never actually exchange words with. Every contract I’ve signed knowing that it will end too soon. Every “I love you” I’ve stuttered through. Every difficult conversation I’ve had. Every doubt that’s taken up residence in my heart. Every single moment leading to right now as I sit in the corner at Starbucks writing this (because some things never change), and every single moment leading away from now as I continue forward. They’ve all contributed to this “becoming” thing.
I was chatting with a soul friend recently, worrying out loud (as I do) about turning twenty-five. I get annoyed with expectations and usually cast them aside and live up to my own strange standards, but the certain expectations I felt surrounding twenty-five were closing in on me and it was getting hard to breathe.
“There’s so much I haven’t done!” I exclaimed, trying not to let the worry in the back of my throat transform into tears.
He sighed at me and responded, ever-so-hopefully,
“There’s still so much you get to do!”
And, as much as I hate to admit it, he’s right. I’m just beginning. I’m still new here. Twenty-five makes me a toddler (if that) in the universe’s eyes.
With that in mind, a gigantic hug and excited “THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU” to age twenty-four and to the humans and invisible forces that were instrumental in making this year, easily, the most magical year I’ve met.