Recently, I’ve felt like I have started a new chapter in my life. Not necessarily on purpose but just naturally. I’ve been more focused and have had more direction with my life this year. I think part of it may be due to turning 24, which is still so young in the grand scheme of things but a number that I’ve always thought kicked off adulthood.
I’m writing this on the anniversary of when I set roots in this city for the first time. I was 22 and carried no idea if each year ahead would bring a move or what would change in my life that year. I can tell you that when I moved here I was naive enough to try to plan out my whole life on a timeline. In retrospect, I didn’t even know who I was. I was only just starting to learn about my passions and was still driving around a half broken minivan that I had spent the summer camping out in at concerts or driving to my job in from my parents house 50 minutes away the first two months after graduation. Turns out that getting the job, having a relationship and living on your own does not make you an adult. I took all of those things seriously but looking back, I had hardly made any personal growth since the end of college and I now see a girl who was playing pretend.
23 brought hard life lessons and a sense of coming into myself, experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world but a sense of being lost. Things felt kind of stagnant and I wasn’t miserable but felt frustrated and slightly stuck. I saw a sign driving past a church once that said “when God doesn’t open a door then praise him in the hallway,” it resonated with me because I metaphorically felt like I was in the hallway just waiting for any door to open. And maybe I didn’t see the doors open but 23 was also the year I started to travel which led to me putting my career above all else, my first confident sense of direction in what I wanted to do or could do with my life. It was the year that I got diagnosed with pretty severe adult ADHD and so much of my past had clicked from the way I handled relationships to why I found it impossible have any type of organizational system. Maybe I’ll write about that diagnosis later but it came with hope and relief, because I had factual data on how my brain functions and no longer felt “doomed.” I started feeling in control of my life that much more. I moved into a new apartment, I became more intuitive and started actively learning about myself. I gained a lot of independence by letting myself spend time alone to get to know myself.
23 was a year of learning but 24 has brought the most change that I think will stick with me. I started becoming confident in my abilities professionally and mentally. I started picking up every hobby that I wanted to without fear of “sucking” or being judged. I started learning healthy boundaries and being appropriately empathetic without taking someone’s feelings on as my own. 24 came with a lot of loss but also a lot of bravery. I also have a greater sense of gratitude for the friends I have and even the lessons I learned from people who have hurt me. 24 has been more of a quiet acceptance of the inevitable but faith in my ability to handle it. I know that I’ll always make mistakes, have lapses of judgment and I will be at the sharp end of the sword with people I care about again- but I’m not holding myself to an insane standard anymore and I now see how this all has shaped me into the person I’m becoming.
I’m not sure what the future will bring, no one really ever is. I don’t know where I’ll be in life a year from now. I have no inkling where I’ll end up living, if I’ll have a partner or who the people I surround myself with will be. For the first time, I’m actually okay with this. Everything that has happened has lined up with the becoming of the person I am today. There’s been pain and tragedy scattered throughout but along with has been some of the most beautiful moments and stories I can’t tell without intense laughter too. Even writing about this is big for me, as it makes me feel vulnerable but it’s another way that I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone.
There are more lessons to come and more identity to find but I’m really excited to see who I end up being. I know I’ll feel lost again or confused but I now know it comes in waves, but I appreciate the experiences I’ve had that have given me the tools to get through them. For now, I’m enjoying just being and the crazy experience that is life during early adulthood.