(this one goes out to Becca Blank on her 25th birthday: couldn't have planned it if I tried.)
I excel at reverse mind over matter. I have this habit of pretending that things that are happening are not actually happening, and think that I believe in my subconscious that if I ignore them for long enough, they will magically disappear. Hence, waiting four months to come to the doctor to have them look at my wrist.
It is neither helpful nor realistic. But it’s how I tend to operate. Have tended to, I should say, since we’re on a journey of change. Yes, we. Lord knows I can’t do it alone, y’all.
Turns out the CityMD doctor, aka the master of purgatory, thinks I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Purgatory gave me a rather obtrusive (and ugly) brace and told me to make an appointment with a wrist specialist. I would have much rather have a broken wrist than a symptom of growing older. Logical? No. Where I’m at? Damn straight.
I realize I’m not actually old - but I turned 25 this year, and it was the first birthday that I truly panicked over.
25 just seems so adult.
22: basically still in college, poor decisions both expected and kinda welcomed.
23: graduated into adulthood, only just starting to navigate - mistakes expected and excused
24: ok need to start to get it together - been adulting for a little while now and it’s time to reign it in a bit, however... still not totally there yet, so live it up - just be more responsible about it
But 25? - been an adult for long enough that nothing can be blamed on naiveté; own your mistakes. No blaming poor decisions on age anymore. (In immediate retrospect, this is actually a good thing, and there is freedom to be found in it - but that’s currently not the point. We’ll get there.)
Getting older is scary because I’m afraid of losing out on the fun. Young = fun - am I right? Probably not.
I feel like a lot of people fall into one of two categories -
- high school was the best time of my life
- college was the best time of my life
I fall into category numero uno. High school was a blast. College was work. It was fun - but it was work.
Now, high school was partly a blast because I happened to not suuuuper be interested in the academic side of things. But the social side? All over it. When you’re 16/17/18, live in a warm climate, have a car, reasonable resources, and awesome friends, life is pretty much designed to be one big party. There are no real responsibilities. Decision making on a whim and going where the wind takes you are basically the only requirements - especially in the summer time. I think the toughest decisions my friends and I made during our senior summer were :
- when we would go to someone’s beach house
- whose house the party was at on a given night
We spent endless days and nights in Kitty’s backyard, in the pool, going to lunch, dinner, and Starbucks… nothing was decided until the day of and even then we’d change things around as we felt it. It was a simple way to live.
At the time, all the adults in my life were telling me to "cherish this time because you’ll never get it back." But listening to adults when in high school is not exactly the average high schoolers m.o. So you can rest assured, that it wasn’t mine.
The reality of it is that you can’t understand the freedom of having no responsibilities until you’ve had responsibilities…
I now get the progression of high school to college. In college I was eased into real responsibilities. Make good grades, excel at my work, do my laundry, keep my dorm room or apartment clean. That pretty much sums it up.
And at the time, that felt like a lot of responsibility. I had never done my own laundry or cleaned my own living space. I’d picked up my room and kept it “clean,” but no, I’d never dusted or mopped floors or vacuumed. Not for a lack of effort by my parents. When I was in high school, my mum threatened to take away my allowance every week that I didn’t bring my empty hangers to the laundry room for my clean clothes to be hung on - I sacrificed my allowance. Why? I have no idea. In an attempt to teach me how to iron, my mum refused to have my clothes ironed until I learned - I settled for un-ironed clothes. I claimed that I had too much to do. I would LOVE to know now what it was that I thought I had to do that was so important… I was in actuality, just being a brat.
In my first year at college, when I was forced to take responsibility for my own living space, I became a total OCD neat freak. About two weeks in, I saw dust on my counters, and felt grime on my floors and realized that the room wasn’t going to clean itself. I promptly drove to Target and bought every cleaning product/supply imaginable.
But I purchased those products with an allowance. My food was paid by for a meal plan and later, when I moved off campus, by an increased allowance. My bills were paid by my parents. I thought I was such an adult. But L O L.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “this girl is a spoiled brat. My parents paid for nothing. I had three jobs in college. I had to earn scholarships.” - I see your point and that’s awesome - Good for you!! I’m glad you learned early. I’m not discounting that I had it easier than I realized - but everyone grows up differently and knows life in a different way - this was my reality. So to me, it was hard.
Actual life is different.
After two weeks of helping me move into my third floor walk-up, build furniture, and get to know the city, I closed the door to my parent's cab the day they left, got back up to my apartment and realized I had no idea what to do next. How was I going to do this? How could I? I was all alone.
But I was also excited - I had finally made the move to my magical NY. This is the place that alllll my dreams would come true. I would run around New York, wild and free, loving life.
I remember thinking in those first few weeks that it had to be smooth sailing from here. Surely, my trials were behind me - having my heart totally broken and surviving life-saving brain surgery seemed like I had paid my dues. I would be walking into my promised land soon. That was over three years ago.
A tough family circumstance that began last November, came to a head on my 25th birthday in January. I was halfway across the country and could do nothing. I was helpless and hopeless. As I drove away from returning my new puppy (another post for another day - oof, that's a toughie), I couldn’t stop sobbing. I was now 25 and what did I have to show for my life? What dreams had I accomplished? What goals was I actively working towards? What lives have I touched? How have I contributed to the world?
I would say that from April 27, 2014 - March 5, 2016, I exercised my great ability to pretend that that my life was not what it was. There were patches here and there where I’d get on a roll, I would determine myself to make a change by accomplishing a trillion things on a to-do list aimed at my goals, and then something would set me off course. The life I pictured for myself couldn’t be further away. The things I thought I’d have accomplished couldn’t seem more unlikely. My life could not have looked more different from my plans if I tried.
That hasn’t changed. I’m still 25 and my life doesn’t look the way I planned, dreamed, or imagined…. It looks better.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. - Prov 16:9
I have learned more than I ever could have wondered about. I have grown more than I thought possible. I have survived more than I ever thought capable. I have more clarity about what I dream than I could have if everything had gone according to plan. I have learned how to fully own my mistakes. I’ve learned when to stand up for myself, when to walk away, and when to extend the olive branch. I have a visceral understanding of bravery, perseverance, joy, and freedom. I am so glad that nothing went to plan.
The detour hasn’t caused my dreams to diminish, it’s caused them to grow.
At 25, my life is just beginning. The responsibilities aren’t so scary anymore - there’s a freedom in them. And sometimes, a song will come on and I’ll long for that carefree high school life for a minute - but when it’s over, I’m ready to get back to the life I have now and the life that’s ahead of me, because I know that even in the trial, it just keeps getting better.
And you know what? I slept with that dumb brace on and it actually made my wrist not hurt for the first time in eons. #thebestisyettocome
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jer 29:11