With less than three days until year 23, I find myself digging my heels into the hypothetical ground of time. Except the ground is cold, and hard like after snow fall, so the whole “digging in” part isn’t going all that well. You know, I’ve never really feared getting older or running out of time until recently. Frankly, I am scared of getting older.
I wish I could pinpoint exactly what is causing this bit of anxiety, but I really don’t think it is just one thing.
Perhaps it is because I am one year away from aging out of most pageant systems, or that in the next few months I have to determine if graduate school is something I want to pursue, or that I have to really get serious about moving away from my home state and doing so alone, or that so many around me are beginning to have weddings and baby showers and I am not (and don’t want to.. I think?), or that I really still don’t know what I want to do as it pertains to my career or that all of the “deadlines” I set for myself years ago haven’t been met..
Am I have an early-20’s-crisis? Is that even a thing? What is wrong with me?
I remember being told, “stay young while you can” throughout much of my preteen and teenage years. Yet, like many at that time, more than anything I was ready to be older. I remember eagerly marking off the days on my Lilly Pulitzer calendar until I was 16, 18, then 20 and of course 21. Time seemingly moved much slower then. Now, ironically, time is Usain Bolt in the 100 meter dash.
If I could be 22 for just one more year, there’s so much more I would do and more importantly do differently. While, I do believe everything happens for a reason and that we shouldn’t linger on the “what if’s” or regrets of life, I do know that growth is found in reflection.So, if I could be 22 again, I would..
Be more selfish. I would make more decisions because I wanted to and not because I was trying to fulfill the expectations of family, friends or otherwise. I would spend more time finding out what makes me happy. I wouldn’t give my time, energy, resources, love, or talents to people and things so easily.
Not be afraid to say no. I would say no and not feel compelled to offer an explanation as to why. I would know that my “no” meant no, and that it was final. I wouldn’t agree to do things that I didn’t want to, was too tired to do, or down right wasn’t interested in doing. I wouldn’t over commit myself to things that didn’t align with my passions and would spend more time doing things that I loved.
Stop apologizing. I would stop feeling so deeply for those who didn’t feel the same for me. I wouldn’t apologize for speaking my truth, being present, taking up space, or articulating my emotions. I would stop feeling like I was a burden to others for asking for help and apologizing to them for time spent on me. I would know that I am worth it, whatever it was.
Travel more. I wouldn’t turn down the opportunities to travel out of fear; fear of leaving something behind and no coming back to it, fear of traveling alone, fear of having to take off work. I would just pack my bags and go when the opportunities arose.
Stop giving a f*ck. I would be more intentional about my emotional energy. I would care less about what others thought, how they felt, and what they said if they were not adding value to my life. I wouldn’t allow their negativity to enter my space. I would block more and ask less questions.
Save more money. I would take advantage of the fact that my salary has nearly doubled in the past year since obtaining a new job, and save more. I wouldn’t increase my living expenses, and I wouldn’t spend as much on things that didn’t bring me joy. I would have adopted minimalism into my life sooner.
Tell loved ones, that I love them. I would tell my family and friends that I loved them more often. I would express gratitude and appreciation more. While I know they know these things, I would be more intentional about showing my loved ones how much they mean to me. I would work on fostering and building family traditions.
Wouldn’t rush. I would be more mindful in enjoying each moment. I wouldn’t spend time comparing myself to others and wondering why I am not where they are. I wouldn’t beat myself up for things that are out of my control. I would trust more in the timing of my life and appreciate what I have and what is still yet to come. I wouldn’t rush in romantic or platonic relationships trying to quickly reach a goal that I had in mind; I would allow things to happen as they are meant to and when they are meant to.
Be consistent in my health. I would pay more attention to what I am putting in my body, and not wait until months before a big competition to be a “health guru” and go into workout overdrive. I would realize that I only get one body and that I need to take care of it. I would visit the doctor more frequently, and not say “I’m fine”, when I really wasn’t. I wouldn’t hold feelings in trying to be mindful of others, I’d be more aware of when I needed to take breaks, whether physical or emotional.
Let people go. I would let people go when they showed me their true colors. I wouldn’t keep watering fake plants and stick around for something that would never come to full bloom. I would stop allowing others to project their insecurities on me. I would stop questioning my worth because people chose to do me wrong. I would let go and move forward, knowing that there is better to come.
Love me better. Man, first and foremost I would stop beating up on myself and feeling like I wasn’t enough. I wouldn’t spend so many nights alone and crying, because someone hurt me; I’d take things with stride and move forward. I would stop depending on others for happiness. I wouldn’t seek out things that I already knew. I would trust my gut more often. I wouldn’t deprive or isolate myself because I was hurting. I would give myself time to heal, before I tried to help others. I would be more adventurous and not afraid to do things alone. I would devote less time to work and more time to myself and my interests. I’d cuss more and stop trying to be so damn polite all the time. I would go out (socially) more and try new things. I wouldn’t make excuses. I wouldn’t stick around for people who didn’t show up for me. I would be more bold and say how I really felt. I would celebrate my accomplishments, rather than dwell on what I have yet to do. I would stop wondering why a man didn’t see value you in me or why a friend didn’t just tell me what was bothering her. I would love the reflection that I saw in the mirror and stop trying to fix her.
Year 22 was really a blur, it came and went by so quickly, that I wish I could do it all over again. But the reality is, I can’t and in a few days I will be on to the next year. While I have no clue what the next 365 days holds for me, I hope I am able to continue to grow into the woman that I am destined to be and surround myself around those who want the same for me.
I hope for whoever is reading this and however old you are, to know that it’s okay to not be okay. It is okay to not know what you want or how you are going to get there. Regardless of how things are right now, you will get through it, I promise.
A slightly older, Devin J.