#DailyWings: “We lived our lives as if life was forever. To live one’s life without a sense of time is to squander it.” – Diana Trilling
Most of this blog post was written on June 22, the day of my birthday, but I haven’t been able to post it until today. As I wrap things up with my current marketing role, I will be able to blog more and more. Huge thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes after my career announcement!
It’s 12 o’clock in the morning, and even though I technically don’t turn 23 years old until 9:15 a.m, my birthday is officially here and I’m starting to feel nostalgic – which is pretty typical when you’re about to start a new year of living. I’m about to be 23, and yet I’m still very much happy, free, confused and lonely. Those feelings haven’t gone anywhere; if anything, they’ve intensified.
To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to my birthday this year. In fact, I was dreading it. As someone who grew up absolutely loving surprise parties and sheet cakes and party favors and the special meaning behind birthdays, I can tell you this isn’t normal. Everyone tells me that when you pass all the exciting ages (meaning ages 13, 16, 18 and 21), the magic behind birthdays disappears and you just feel, well, old. When birthdays lose their charm, it means you’ve “grown up.”
The problem is that I don’t feel grown up at all. I don’t look it, either. Most people who see my face for the first time think I’m 15 or 16 years old. I used to think that when people met me and then heard my voice, they’d hear a bit of maturity and realize that looks are misleading. But the other day, a waitress at The Egg and I came up to me out of nowhere and said, “Excuse me, I know this is so random but you have the cutest voice I’ve ever heard.” Is it possible for the words “cute” and “mature” to describe the same thing?
What’s funny is that, since the start of my 20s, I’ve been going through certain “phases” that many people typically experience during their teenager years – for instance, experimentation with makeup and skincare (and, with that, alterations in appearance), drastic changes in personal taste (I used to hate sushi, and now I’m obsessed) and poetry writing. And yet, my personality seems to have stayed the same; if anything, it’s become more refined and I’m more like me than ever. It’s weird: even though I’m still the exact same person I was eight years ago, I’ve also changed a lot.
Sometimes, it feels like I’m behind. As a kid, I thought for sure that by the age of 20 I would have written at least one or two books and gotten them published. I had no other expectations or grownup-y wishes to be fulfilled. Just book-writing. And now that I’m closer to age 25 than I am to 20, I’m a little sad that I haven’t finished writing a book yet. Not even close.
I’m constantly learning how to be happy where I am instead of boo-hooing over the things I haven’t done in life but think I should have by now. Ever since I found out I got into graduate school for journalism, I haven’t really allowed myself a moment to take a breather or bathe in the good news or even think about where I want this opportunity to take me in the future. Maybe it’s because I’m too afraid to imagine the possibilities. Here, I am reminded of a significant quote by Nelson Mandela: “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.” It’s far easier to think about all of the things that I am not than to think about who I could become.
Having that much control over my own path is scary, but when I think long and hard – such as during my drive to work or in the shower or while I’m washing the dishes – about what I want out of life and I realize those goals are within my reach, it’s empowering. I strongly believe in making your dreams happen now instead of playing the what-if, what-about-later game. We’re not guaranteed 100 years to live. Perhaps instead of focusing so much on age as a measurement of growth, I should judge my personal success based on the experiences I have and the people I meet and the places I go while living my dreams in the moment, starting with New York. I plan to use this next year to see how far I can get.