It’s almost time for my birthday again. Last year, I wrote a post chock full of lessons I believed that I had learned. I mean, I had learned them to a short degree, but as with all things, lessons don’t ever end when you think they will.
It’s been a strange year. For the past several years, each year seems to present an entirely new set of issues or changes that are greater than the last. This year was no exception. I moved back from Germany, encountered my most severe heartbreak, moved back in with my parents, and met most of my biological family…and those were just the big moments of the year. So many little experiences have been scattered in between the big ones that there’s no way to keep track of them all.
If there’s been one major theme or lesson from the past year, it’s been “move on and learn what you and you alone want from life”. I took a huge leap moving to another country during year twenty-four, but it was an experience I had always wanted for myself. Moving back to the town I went to high school in, a town that I never had a single desire to live in ever again, was another huge leap, but it was almost more of a desperate flailing into something because I had no other option at the time. I have no hesitation in saying that it’s been a rough year (my parents will probably be first to agree). I’ve lived at home and had to rely on other to drive me around because I’m carless for the first time in my life.
I realize this probably sounds like a entire post of complaints, but I’m coming around to the other side soon, promise. Because of the difficulties, I’ve again been reminded how resilient I can be if necessary. I’ve been inspired more than ever to dig deep and make something of myself. I think there’s something to be said for hitting rock bottom, looking around, and getting smacked in the face with reality. This life, this empty existence in Tyler, TX with so many people who are content to live the day to day life with no direction in life, is not what I want. I want so much more than that. I want to live an exciting life filled with stories of experiences that actually mean something to the development of a person.
In regards to that severe heartbreak mentioned before: I’m so thankful that it happened. It’s funny…this exact time last year, I was down to single-digit days counting down to my trip to Alaska. I spent twelve days with a guy that I’ve known for most of my life (had a crush on for several years) and who I had spent the previous five months skyping with almost every single day. There was love there. He got me, understood the pain of being in an abusive relationship, and was just so good. However, I don’t think either one of us were healed from those abuses, and instead clung to each other as a salve and distraction instead of really dealing with the pain. For me, it was insecurities. For him, distrust. It ended abruptly, and I spiraled downward for quite some time.
That was eight months ago. Since then, as cheesy as it is, I’ve really been able to focus on who I am and what I want without having to think of another person. I love that kind of solitude. I love making decisions that are selfish. I get such a guilty conscience when making decisions if they involve someone else because I’m always so afraid that I’m not doing what they want. Being able to make plans solely for myself is such a foreign concept to me, but it’s incredible.
Meeting my birth family came at the perfect time. A time where I’m already focusing on getting to know myself. I feel like it was just so appropriate getting to see the family that I could have grown up with and seeing who I could have been in a different life. Honestly, it wasn’t all that different from the person I’ve started to become now, which was a great encouragement. The thoughts in my head, the desire in my heart..they make up who I am and aren’t just products of my surroundings. The contrast between the two families in my life couldn’t be more opposite. I’m going toward what I want despite of what I am immersed in.
So what’s next? I’ve got a week of being twenty-five left. A week where I’m solidly in my mid-twenties, where I’ve only lived a quarter of a century. I’m not sure what the next year will hold yet. I know an outline of what I want to happen: I want to feel more in control of my life, more put together. I want to finally create a foundation that I can build a solid life off of. Traveling and living overseas is still the final goal, but getting there is going to take more work that I’ve previously wanted to admit.
Cheers to twenty-five: the year that forced me to work hard.
side note: this was written on 8/8, but I was in Alaska without internet for my birthday, and have been incredibly busy back in Frankfurt since.
The day is finally here..the day I turn twenty-five. This birthday has always seemed more of an obstacle to me than thirty for some reason. Perhaps it’s the fact that twenty-five makes me officially a quarter of a century old? That’s at least the only explanation I can think of.
At times, I don’t feel old enough to be this age. I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished the things that I thought I would be now. But then I really stop to think about all that I have done and I realize that maybe I’m doing pretty well after all. Maybe not all of the moments in my life have been pleasant ones, but I’ve learned from every single one of them and I truly believe they’ve helped me to become a better person. Yes, some of the lessons are textbook thoughts that you tend to read in every self-help or coming-of-age article known to man, but they don’t seem like that big of a deal until you really live them.
The painful moments show your strength more than the pleasant ones
This past year was a particularly difficult one for me. Years 22 and 23 were hard with moving, family members with cancer, and a miscarriage, but then 24 came and hit me like a ton of bricks after the end of a marriage. I remember thinking so many times through those years that this was just my life now- a collection of sob stories and hurt. However, now that I’ve made it through that period, I know just how strong I can be when I need to be.
Asking for help is perfectly acceptable
For the longest time, I felt like in order to be strong, I had to take care of everything myself. Nobody that knew me really knew how much I was falling apart inside because I refused to let it show. I finally realized that I simple was unable to help myself and be emotionally healthy, so I started seeing a therapist, and it was the best thing I could have possibly done for myself.
Your comfort zone is meant to be broken down
Moving to a different country is obviously the biggest comfort zone I’ve stepped out of, but there are little ones that go along with that: learning a new language, trying to make new friends, eating new foods. Sadly enough, I think the food issue was the biggest one for me. Any of my friends and family back home can tell you that I’m an extremely picky eater. Guess what? Not anymore!
Not everything is meant to be
Sometimes, the things you hope and dream for don’t come true. You see certain things lining up and you think it’s going to blossom into a beautiful story, but more often than not, it’s a passing coincidence. I’ve had to tell myself time and time again to not get hung up on what “could be”.
However, once in a great while, fate can take over
I realize this is contradictory to the last point, but there can come a time when everything just falls into place and you have no idea how or where, but appreciating the magic of that moment is all you can do. I think almost everyone gets to experience this to some degree in their lives, no matter how big or small, so if and when it does happen, embrace it.
Treasure the time you have
I think I’ve always intellectually known that being thankful for the time you spend with loved ones is very important, but in the day-to-day, I tend to forget it. In the past few years, both of my grandmothers’ health has dramatically gone downhill, and I find myself wishing I had been able to spend more time with them to learn from them and to just hear stories about my family. When I’m in the states, I spend as much time with them as I can, but it’s impossible to get any of that lost time back.
Spur of the moment decisions can sometimes lead to the greatest adventures
When I took the au pair job in Germany, I had a week to get my plane ticket and pack everything. I’m fairly certain that everyone I knew thought I had lost my mind because it was such a quick decision. I believe that sometimes following your gut is the best decision. When you’re young and have nothing to hold you back in your life, seeing what else is out there is a wonderful option
Creating good habits can be a mind-saver
When I moved to Germany, I started journaling. I can’t count the amount of times I had previously started to keep a journal, but this time I kept at it. It supposedly takes around a month to make or break a habit, so I just wrote every day until I had what can only be described as a compulsion to write. At times, it’s the only way I’ve been able to stay sane and in control of everything going on around me.
Some things should be experienced by yourself
People will always come and go. Even family won’t always be there, no matter how close you are. There will be some times in your life that you have to learn to be alone. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes when you successfully complete a task on your own. I thankfully learned this lesson young, but I know that if I hadn’t, I would be much more dependent on people around me. Independence is a good thing.
Take time to reflect and improve
You can always be better in some aspect of your life. There is always always room for improvement. I think the times that I’ve grown the most is when I’ve just stopped to take a step back from my life and looked for the areas that are need for improvement the greatest.
You cannot compare your life to anyone else’s life and expect to be content
For as long as I can remember, I’ve compared myself to the people around me. Other people always had better bodies, prettier clothes, nicer houses, etc. Instead of learning to appreciate all of the good things I had to offer, I was constantly trying to keep up or surpass what other people had. Trust me, it makes for a very unhappy life.
Learn to stand up for yourself
There are bound to be people out there who will try to take advantage of you. It may be in a relationship and it may even be in a job. Knowing what your responsibilities are and what should be expected of you versus what actually is being expected of you is key. There can be a very fine line between trying to help someone and being taken advantage of. I’ve always been one to try and make people happy, even if it means not getting what I want or believe I deserve, but there are a few times where I’ve had to put my foot down and I’m glad I was able to stand up for myself when it was necessary.
Not all friendships will last for all eternity
I had a friend in elementary school that I could have sworn I would have been best friends with for the rest of my life. Our friendship lasted through several different moves, but for some reason, the communication slowly faded to nothing. I tried and tried to reach out to her, but it was a one-sided attempt. I finally just had to tell myself that maybe she was just finished with the friendship and had moved on with her life. If I’m honest, it still makes me sad, but I also know there’s nothing else I can do to get that friendship back
You don’t have to justify your decisions or actions to everyone
Sometimes, you are the only person who needs to know the reasoning behind the decision you make. Everyone and their mother is going to have an opinion on that piercing you got when you were 18, the dozens of different hair styles you’ve had, or the huge move you’re planning. Some of the big, life-changing decisions may warrant an outside opinion, but make sure it’s one that you trust. Just make sure you’re doing them for the right reason.