only a few days left
and i keep thinking back
to one year ago…
two years ago…
five years ago…
and i can’t believe how much has changed.
i think i say this every year
at this time
when i am preparing for
around the beating sun,
but as i focus my attention
on the possibilities and opportunities
i am going to have
and the life
i am going to live this year,
i am overwhelmed with excitement and
because i hope this year is the year
where i finally feel like
7:23 pm, january 26, 2020
i was sitting in the bathtub when i wrote that. sitting in the bathtub has become part of my normal routine these days. my normal routine. i hate the sound of that simply because i hate routines. i hate doing the same things over and over and over. it’s boring. mundane. although for a person who is fueled by as much anxiety as i am, you would think routine would be good. but one thing i have realized is that i thrive on change. mostly, irrational change. getting up in the morning and saying “hmmm yeah i’m going to fly to Seattle tomorrow and stay there for a week or a month” or “yeah i’m going to go get another tattoo today” (can you belive i’m already up to 17?) my therapist says that’s why i have trouble finishing things, because i erratically change direction about as often as i change my underwear. but then at the same time, i get upset with myself for not accomplishing or finishing things. the endless cycle!
my 23rd birthday is in 15 days. twenty…three. its been five years since i graduated high school, two years since i turned 21, and one year since my life was just about flipped upside down. it has since landed back on its axis, but not by itself. it has taken a lot of hard work to get to the point where i am now. a lot of hard work, tears, confusion and pain. but also so many good moments.
the thought of turning 23 feels different. and i know i say this every year, or at least, i feel like i do. but maybe it feels different because this year is actually going to BE different. im going to MAKE it different. im DETERMINED to make it better. it started with setting a couple goals for myself at the start of the new year. 8 simple tasks that i try to accomplish daily. and i’ve actually (surprisingly) been doing pretty decent with them! but it goes so much deeper than making sure i workout daily or take my vitamins every morning (although those things certainly do help) its more of a mental thing. it’s getting your mind to agree with your soul that every decision you make or word you speak is made or spoke while being conscious of the fact that you are trying to live a better, healthier life. and i think the reason why i feel more motivated this time around is because i really like fresh starts. clean slates. blank pages. and the thought of being five years out from turning 18 feels like a perfect new beginning.
ha. five years ago when i turned 18 i thought i had it all together (just ask my parents) i was ready to graduate high school, go away to college in philly, study architecture, and live on my own for the first time in my life (!!!!!!!) well, sike. because five years later i have none of that. actually, this year was supposed to be the year i graduated college with a degree in architecture…followed by staying in philly, finding a job at a firm, studying for my architecture license, finding the love of my life, getting married, starting a family, and eventually owning my own residential architecture firm. blah blah blah. although many of those things are still in my sights…the steps i am taking to get there are immensely different from five years ago. and what i’ve realized, is that that’s okay.
one thing that i have felt so confused about this past year is that my life is just not following the path i had laid out for myself. this imaginary road i had built for myself to travel down…with stops along the way and all my dreams at the other end. five years ago, i thought my life would be a hell of a lot different than what it is now. and when i was 18 five years ago, being 23 seemed sooo damn exciting. i couldn’t wait to be 23. hanging at bars, dinner dates with friends, being in love, having a career. (if only i had known about all the goddamn BILLS)
now, at almost 23, i wish i could go back to 18 and do so many things differently.
but, i can’t. i don’t have the ability to time travel and go back and make different decisions. so i just have to keep trucking forward, learning from my mistakes and experiences and making the future the best that i can.
so as the time ticks and i get closer and closer to 23…i want to reflect on the things i have learned along the way to 23 and also the things i want to put more focus on as i begin my travels to 24.
1. you may outgrow the small town you were born and raised in. anyone who knows me knows how much i love Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania. i am fueled by the fantasies of living in a small town and bleed black and gold for my hometown wildcats…but sometimes i find myself so uncomfortable in this place, which has been my “home” for 23 years. i often have this overwhelming feeling of not feeling at “home” in my own “home”. and it’s saddening. i love living minutes from my whole family and having one specific bar to go to every weekend…but i also know how ginormous this world is and how much is waiting for me out there. i just have to go find it.
2. the people you surround yourself with will drive your intentions. this has been something i should have learned many years ago, but it took me a while to finally see it. if you want to be creative, you have to seek creative minds. if you want to become successful, you have to find successful people with success stories to tell. and if you want to be a low-life town alcoholic…well…find the bar and learn their hours. my ex boyfriend will be sitting right next to you.
3. things don’t magically happen, you have to work for them. as much as i wish all of my dreams would just fall into my lap and be beautiful and wonderful, life doesn’t work that way. accomplished dreams actually take blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, a lot of hard work, and probably even more tears.
4. friends can be and will be temporary. truthfully, there will be SO many people that are only in your life for a certain amount of time. no matter how close you think you are to them. i’m only (almost) 23 and have had countless losses of people. people who i genuinely thought were going to be in my wedding and at my 40th birthday party. friends can pop into your life out of nowhere, take a couple shots with you, get you thru a bump in the road, then disappear to never be heard from again. and it will be heartbreaking, just like the loss of a boyfriend will be. but be thankful that you had that time with them and remember the things you were able to learn from them. these people will help you realize who has been there since the beginning and make you appreciate them that much more (you know who you are)
5. the people you rely on the most will let you down. we’re all human. it’s cliche to say, but it’s true. even the people who you look up to, idolize, and admire will eventually let you down. everyone is going to stumble at some point and maybe even fall flat on their face. but watch how they get themselves back up again. watch how they take their first step again. there’s a reason why they are your hero.
6. saturday nights can be spent curled up watching movies and drinking wine by yourself. and just because you weren’t included in the invite to go to the bar, or the invite to hang out at that one house for the night, doesn’t mean you don’t have friends. i have this unhealthy habit of immediately jumping to the conclusion that i’m just such a loser that no one wants to hang out with me or do anything with me. well…it’s simply not true, despite what my brain is trying to tell me. this happened to me this past New Years Eve. i wasn’t invited to do anything fun and spent midnight laying in bed, drinking a bottle of wine and watching Hart of Dixie. for that specific instance, it just so happened that none of my friends were doing anything major and everyone was just staying low for the night. but let me tell you…i was miserable, thinking that i just had no friends that wanted to ring in the new year with me. NOT TRUE. i just didn’t see the situation for what it actually was because i was too busy pouting. nights spent alone are actually wonderful and i’m slowly learning to make them productive, instead of mopey.
7. social media isn’t as important as we all think it is. HA. hold on. let me say it one more time, just for myself. social media isn’t as important as YOU think it is. i think this one is pretty self explanatory, but it’s something i’ve been trying to work on in the new year. i don’t know why i feel the need to share so much of my life with people who actually don’t care what i’m up to…but i do. too much. wayyyy too much. so i’ve been trying to cut this back and put more time into the actual moments of life that i am living instead of being on my phone but…it’s a work in progress.
8. your best friend knows you better than you want to admit that she does. so basically, in the least amount of words…if she thinks you’re doing something stupid and says you’re going to end up getting hurt, stop doing whatever you are doing. that’s that.
9. make time for the people who care about you. and when i say the people who care about you, i mean the people who care about you. not the people who show up to the bar on your birthday just because it’s an opportunity to get drunk. i mean the people who are there for you when you need someone. the people who would go out of their way to help you do anything you needed help with. the people who you call late at night to talk about how you’ve been depressed for two months now. those are the people who deserve your time and also your care and concern in return for the care and concern they have for you.
10. spend less time worrying about the people who don’t care about you. it’s sad but there will be more of these people than there will be of the people who do care about you. that’s life. everyone is selfish, which is fair. but these people don’t deserve your utmost attention. it’s okay to listen to what they have to say and hang out with them at times, but don’t be offended if they insult you or upset when they don’t invite you to something. their words and actions should not carry as much weight as the words and actions of the people who are there for you through thick and thin. these people don’t have your best interest at heart and don’t care about where you end up in the long run. so hold them at a distance and allow more space for the people who do matter.
11. no one owes you a damn thing. i wasn’t born into the most fabulous life. my parents were young, dumb and broke. they had no clue what they were doing but they made the most of what we had. and i give them so much credit for what they were able to provide for my brother Logan and i. but somewhere along the line i caught this chip on my shoulder that made me believe that i deserved a break. that i never deserved this difficult life and was next in line for a hand-out of some sort. well. how wrong have i been to think this way. having this mentality has actually limited my ability to accomplish things because i felt like i shouldn’t have had to work for them to happen, rather they should have just been handed to me. HA. right. because a brand new Jeep wrangler, a million dollars and a lake house are just going to fall out of the sky and land right in front of me. no one owes me anything. every single person has had to figure out how to make things work and i have to do just the same. and the older i get, the more grateful i am that most things weren’t handed to me from my parents. having a work ethic is a wonderful thing, and finally earning something you worked your ass off for is the most satisfying feeling.
12. situations only hurt you as much as you let them. i realized after my college boyfriend and i broke up that the more you care about someone, the more power you give them to hurt you. i realized this because despite putting everything i could in to our relationship, it still failed. and because i had put so much of myself in, that much more of me was liable to be hurt. but this general idea has so many different applications. the more _____ you put in, the more _____ you get out. in a positive notion: the more effort you put in, the more success you get out. in a negative notion: the more thought you put in, the more confusion you get out. keep this in mind at all times. the more you care, the more you can hurt. the more you’re involved, the more tangled up you can get.
13. the boy next door isn’t the boy of the dreams. listen…i know he has a 6 pack. i also know that you’ve had a crush on him since 7th grade (ugh). but the truth is…he doesn’t give one single shit about you. yes, he tells you that he wants to hear about your day and pays for your drinks at the bar…but that’s because he’s smart and knows how to play with your emotions. you have to be smarter and be aware of the game he is playing. enjoy it. seriously. enjoy that 6 pack (ugh) but be conscious of his intentions. they probably aren’t the same as yours and you don’t deserve to be hurt by someone who drives a 2012 Honda Civic.
14. and the girl next door isn’t as perfect as she seems. it’s really easy for me to preach about living a better life and pretend like i follow everything i say to a T. but the truth is, i am so insecure and have such low self esteem. people often think that i am so confident based on the way that i carry myself, but truthfully that’s just a hard exterior mask that i put up so that people don’t see how fragile my mental state really is. i compare myself to others every day, maybe even every hour. and it’s extremely difficult to constantly be putting myself in a vulnerable position for my brain to attack me and tell me that i’m not enough or haven’t accomplished something i have been wanting to do for years. social media doesn’t help with this. everyone online looks like they live the ideal, envy-worthy life. but the truth is…they’re only allowing you to see the things that they want you to see. most aren’t going to share the fact that they only put $5 of gas in their tank and wear a lot of hand-me-downs from their sisters or friends. so take what you see at face value. everyone is living a life that you have no clue about.
15. heartbreak is temporary. i promise. ask any one of my family members or friends and they will tell you how many times my heart has been broken. read any one of my posts and they will tell you how many times my heart has been broken! but look at me. i am still here. i worked through every single heartbreak (somehow) and yes, every single one sucked and i didn’t think i was going to be able to move forward. but i did. every single time. if you put yourself out there and allow yourself to give and gain love and care, then you have to be equally as prepared to lose that love and care. it’s going to feel like the whole world is crumbling around you…but eventually the dust will clear and you’ll realize that only the walls around you fell and now you’re free to move forward.
16. the right person will be there for you at the right time. i love love. i love being in love. i love receiving love. i love expressing love. i love everything about love. but sometimes, it’s just not your time to be in love. i have spent the last decade of my life in love with many different people. seriously. i have jumped from relationship to relationship since i was in 8th grade (yes this 8th grade relationship counts in my book) and guess where it got me?! no where. i am no longer in any of those relationships. and that’s because i wanted love so badly. i wanted it so much that it was never right or never enough and the relationships would have never worked out in the long run. i was so worried about giving everyone else my love that i never took time to love myself. the most important person to love. so yes. now i am navigating the single life at (almost) 23 and it’s hard! i’m helping my best friend plan her dream wedding with her high school sweetheart and i’m jealous that i am not in the same boat as her. but that’s because it’s not my time. i have too many things that i want to do, too many places i want to see, too many things i need to learn, before i can be ready to be settled. it took me a while to accept that, but that’s because i wasn’t trusting the universe and the plan it has laid out for me. so for now, i am doing what i need to do for myself and falling in love with myself, that way i will be better at being in love with someone else eventually.
17. life f*cking sucks sometimes. this is another one that i wish i could repeat and repeat and repeat and beat into my own head. sometimes life makes absolutely no sense. sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned them to. and sometimes even when it feels like it can’t get any worse…it does. but that’s just how it is. my dad always said when i was growing up that life isn’t fair, and the older i get, the more i realize that he is right.
18. crying doesn’t make you weak. having emotions doesn’t make you weak. being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak. falling in love doesn’t make you weak. these are all beautiful things in their own ways. not beautiful like a rainbow or waterfall or sunset, but beautiful in the fact that they are frightening and invigorating and terrifying and remind you that you are alive and experiencing and breathing and living.
19. someone out there wishes that they were living the life that you have. i know someone who was in an extremely bad motorcycle accident a few months ago. so bad that the doctors weren’t sure that he was going to live through the night that it happened. he did survive but i guarantee that the life he is living now is exactly the opposite of where he thought be. i read an article the other day that said…acknowledge what your problems are and work through them with diligence but realize that someone out there wishes that their problems were as minuscule as yours.
20. you’re not supposed to have your life together just yet. and it actually may be a while before you have your life “together”. but the idea or concept of “together” is whatever you make it be. i know people in their 50’s that don’t feel like they have their life “together”. i think in order to help this, you have to stop and look around sometimes and appreciate the good things in your life that make you happy. do you have a job? do you hang out with your friends? do you have a car? yes yes yes. i’m not where i thought i would be but it definitely could be worse and i could certainly have less.
21. sometimes you have to put yourself first, regardless of who you may hurt short term. and i wouldn’t consider this being selfish either. i think this is just realizing that ultimately you only have control over yourself and sometimes you have to make decisions that benefit yourself. also to avoid hurting others, communication is extremely important. if you’re always transparent with your intentions, thoughts and feelings, the likelihood of hurting others lessens.
22. enjoy this moment. life is so fragile. it goes by so quick and can so easily be whisked away. i try my hardest to be happy in every moment, and if i’m not happy, then i try to make changes to work toward being happy. i just know that when i’m 62, i’m not going to regret spending money on a trip to Rome or a ticket to that concert. so many things in this life have too much importance (money) while other things are put on the back burner (experiences). at (almost) 23, i think i would rather be broke and happy than rich and bored.
23. there is beauty in innocence. as i watch my baby brother go off to college and help my youngest cousins navigate their senior years of high school, i realize how much i would give to be able to go back and be in their shoes. to go back and have less concerns and less worries and less things to be tied to (like that nasty car payment) i will admit that i have wished most of my young life away…wanting so badly to be at the point where i was waking up next to the love of my life every day, making pancakes in our pajamas on Saturday mornings for our kids. but as i stand back and see the world through my brother’s and cousins’ eyes, damn do i wish i could stay young forever. stop wishing these moments away. time passes fast enough – don’t encourage it to move even faster.