Reflecting on Early Adulthood…so far

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.

6 Things That Happen When You Let Yourself Be Alone With Yourself

The past few years have been a journey into self-growth. With that being said, certain events have accelerated and led to pivitol points in this wild adventure of self-discovery. I truly believe that transcendence leads to transformation and obstacles lead to action. A year ago I made the decision to force myself to have time where I am alone with myself. I felt that I was too dependent on other people and it was holding me back from living the life I wanted to live. I couldn’t tell myself what I needed because I didn’t really know myself and I believe this has a lot to do with the fact I was terribly uncomfortable if I wasn’t right smack dab in the middle of a crowd or constantly with someone.

In college I would take advantage of every social opportunity even if I was physically exhausted because I was completely overwhelmed when I would have to be in my own head. After college, I jumped into a relationship that taught me so many important lessons but it worked as just another excuse for me to spend every waking moment with someone else, never myself. I had just moved to my current city prior to that yet a year later I hadn’t discovered anything about myself. I didn’t know myself. I was missing out on experiences not because anyone was holding me back but because I was holding myself back. I was too afraid to just go out and do, do the things I wanted to do because being physically alone meant having to rely on myself. A year of actively forcing myself to spend time with myself has been life-changing. These are the lessons I learned and what might happen to you too if you choose to take the risk:

1. You become your own best friend

I am absolutely blessed with amazing friends. I cherish both friends I see once a decade and friends I see multiple times a week. With that being said, it’s absolutely not possible to make another person your “rock.” Platonic love is real and it’s always out there but I’ve had to recognize that everyone else is on their own journey too. Just like how you can’t be the best person for someone when you’re hurting, other people have their own shit too. It works both ways. I’ve had a really bad habit of prioritizing other people and their needs before my own. As an eternal optimist, I’ve had to actively keep reminding myself that everyone will act in their own self-interest even if their intent isn’t malicious. People mess up. When you have to act in your own self-interest to cut toxic people out of your life, you’re left with yourself. If you can’t comfort yourself then you’re bound to have struggles ahead and fall into an unhealthy pattern of reliance. Everyone has a right to their own actions and emotions, own yours, grow from them and be there for yourself.

2. Trauma will resurface

In the beginning, when I started doing things alone whether it be as simple as going on a walk or traveling thousands of miles away, I felt overwhelmed at my own thoughts until I became comfortable enough to LISTEN to them. When I could finally listen to my thoughts without feeling like the room was spinning, I was able to analyze them and actually work with them. I was able to finally grow from things that happened years ago. For me, letting myself be alone with my thoughts was a catalyst of having to work through things I pushed to the back of my subconscious. I was able to recognize that these thoughts were leading to certain actions and habits that I was letting consume my life. It’s a long process and I’m still actively working to correct patterns, I have slip ups but now I know to look for a deeper reason. I’ve found this significantly reduces an aggressive guilt I tend to have as my first reaction for situations that I didn’t cause.

3. You have memories that no one can touch

My favorite moment so far in my life has been one I experienced all by myself, that I know no one can touch or tarnish. I had just traveled across the country for work in a very bad period of my life. Outside factors left me feeling hopeless and anxiety ridden but here I was going to the West Coast for the first time which had always been a dream. But that week I got to disconnect from everything at home, I got to learn from experts in my passion (which is my career), I felt empowered. On the last day I traveled to see the bay in San Francisco before my afternoon flight. That morning I watched the sun rise and light up everything around me next to the Golden Gate bridge. A bridge that to me represented hopelessness from knowing that it’s a spot where a lot of people have taken their lives. The glow of this moment, the silence of the waves crashing on the beach left me speechless. I cried happy tears that day because I realized that everything was going to be okay. I smiled the whole way home. It’s beautiful to share in moments with others but I’ll never have to attach anyone else to that memory since I experienced it alone, one I needed.

4. You actually meet more people

Maybe it’s just me but I have met way more people during my solo adventures than out with a group of people. I know that I crave socialization, more specifically- I crave community. I find that when I set out to spend time with myself I often meet people in more authentic ways. There’s no bias and you usually can connect on whatever you’re both doing. For example, snowboarding is one of my favorite hobbies but not something a lot of people that I know are into. I didn’t want that to hold me back so I started frequenting a local mountain, throwing on some tunes and “shredding the gnar” however my little heart desired. I ended up finishing that season with a bunch of new pals that I’d make sure to do a run with when we crossed paths. I met people from all over the states who came out with the same goal I did. Heck, I even made friends with the bartender, I left with her knowing my usual lunch order, always having a safe place to charge my phone and having someone to give me tips on the cast iron pans I just bought. The season is over and although I typically hate winter, I can’t wait to get back out there to my seasonal home away from home, one that I discovered on my own.

5. Your intuition sharpens

Weird flex but I’m highly intuitive- when I give myself time to be. This is both a curse and a blessing. The other day I realized how now it’s not something I can push aside because of how strongly I trust myself and this voice. My newest lesson as a result of that is that ambivalence is truly not an option anymore. I know when I know because I’ve allowed myself to be perceptive from letting myself be alone with my inner voice. You learn to trust your gut feeling that you know isn’t just stemming from insecurity or anxiety. You know when you know, unfortunately this means that you no longer have the permission to use ignorance as a coping skill. You can’t ignore red flags in romantic or platonic relationships or even with yourself. This is also a blessing because you truly realize deception. You get the ownership over your actions. Whenever I react too fast it’s because I haven’t sat alone with the situation and I’m actively trying to ignore what my intuition is telling me. The truth isn’t pretty, but trusting your own truth and what you feel in your gut leads to growth. I’ve made a recent promise to only surround myself mainly with people who live honest lives, because that’s all I’m really trying to do, that’s all we have.

6. Your relationships become healthier

One thing I’ve never understood are people who move into relationships just for the comfort of being in one, but I have experienced staying in one because of the discomfort that a break up would bring. Neither are healthy. I worked hard to be comfortable with my independence, therefore I only get involved with people who support that but also supplement my life. I can now recognize when people like me for who I am versus just wanting me around to fill a void, because I don’t go in search of someone to fill a void. I’ve also realized the importance of giving each other time to just be by ourselves, since I value my alone time so much so. Of course this goes a little haywire in the dopamine and oxytocin craze of new relationships but it’s something that I’m confident that I’ll carry with me throughout future relationships.

It’s still an everyday lesson and I’m constantly growing from trying to understand myself better through alone time but I’m forever grateful for the positive aspects it has brought to my life. I encourage you to be get out there, spend some time with yourself and really enjoy what it brings to you.

 

Things to Do in Jacksonville Beach, FL

I’m on my last semester of college and I feel like a major milestone in that is spring break. I didn’t have the funds to dish out over a thousand dollars to go do the typical college spring break in Mexico but I am so so so happy I didn’t. I ended up a month before break booking a flight to Jacksonville Beach, my housemate Megan’s new hometown, with her and my friend Nikita. It was an absolute gem of a place and I will definitely be back. There were 3 major things there that stood out to me: the food, the bars and the people. We landed on probably the only warm day of our trip but spent the majority of it going from beach bar to beach bar and trying to lay out anyways. Most of our time was spent at this bar right on the ocean called The Pier where we ate our weight in free(!!) chips and salsa, and drank whatever drink special they had. By the end of the trip we were pretty close with the manager and many complimentary tequila shots were taken.

If you go to Jax Beach I also really recommend going to Safe Harbor Seafood. We had the best shrimp nachos in existence there and it’s right on the harbor so the views are great. Another highlight was spending only $8 for bottomless mimosas at Zeta Brewing Co. All of the places we went were full of really genuinely nice people too. Maybe that’s just because I’m a New Yorker and everyone is a little more rough up here but the whole place just radiated happiness. Another honorable mention of a bar, is Surfer The Bar, it’s generally new to the area and highlights a dope indoor food truck and large screen that plays surfing films on repeat. Every bar had unique character and many opportunities to eat while you drink or vice versa.

Another highlight was I met some incredible people down there, and am still in consistent communication with one cool surfer in particular. Everyone I met was so easy going and made you feel right at home.

All in all, I will definitely be back, if not to eventually stay for good someday. It was a vacation that I am so glad I took, definitely a place that you can go to and be like wow I found my people. So if you decide to visit Jax Beach, bank on eating lots of fresh seafood, drinking tequila and maybe meeting a cool surfer.