Turning 24

Last year on my 23rd birthday we were all stuck at home, so going out and hitting the town for my 24th was a bit of an adjustment in a lot of ways. An adjustment of trying to feel comfortable in a crowd again, and also an adjustment in finding peace with the path I'm on in my mid 20's. 

Looking back, it was weird to celebrate a birthday during the pandemic. It almost made me feel like me turning 23 didn't happen since I didn't really get to "live it". I'm not sure anyone can relate to this, but last year just felt so unreal, passing both incredibly fast and painstakingly slow all at the same time. It felt almost intangible; moments all melted into each other to create a long, dream-like state. 

So this year, it was almost a surprise when I saw my birthday creeping up on the calendar, like I had forgotten that it would come along again. 

Some birthdays you feel older, some birthdays you feel unchanged. This year, I felt different. 

I don't feel ready to be 24, and I'm still trying to feel out what it means to me. It may sound strange, but it's something I'm working on being okay with. I don't say this in an "Oh, I'm getting old!" kind of way, but more that I expected to be in a different place than where I am right now. 

For as long as I can remember, I've had this strict plan for how I thought my life was going to pan out.

For a while, my goals were a long way away. By the end of college, I had checked off the boxes of what I thought was a good, acceptable life path. I graduated college with honors, I was in a relationship that I thought would take me to the altar, and I thought I knew what job I wanted to do. Everything was set to happen according to plan.

But of course, as everyone everyone says, life has a bunch of unexpected twists and turns you can't account for. The relationship ended. My job wasn't the best fit for me and I decided to go back to school. These choices aren't wrong and I'm incredibly glad I made them, but I do carry some bitterness with me for not having some of the things on my "checklist" yet. 

Going to a bridal party last month was hard for me, harder than I could have anticipated. I caught myself feeling overwhelmed with anger and jealousy seeing someone accomplish this milestone before me. I could feel the waves of envy emanating as she thanked everyone for coming, as her parents made speeches, etc. This has been my biggest hurdle to overcome: the bitterness.

I couldn't have imagined as a child that I would make the choices I have. At 11 years old, turning 24 felt so far away and impossible, so I shot for the stars when it came to what I would have accomplished. I have a note in my 4th grade journal that says "First Baby - 23". When I found it while spring cleaning last year, it made me both laugh and feel uneasy. 

Today at 24, I still feel like a child myself. I couldn't imagine bringing another life into the world, I'm nowhere near ready! That being said, these little notes from the past feel like a wish unfulfilled, though I know better. It would be easier for me toss aside these self imposed expectations if I didn't want for them, deep down. 

At the end of the day, my childhood goal is not a deadline. 

I have so much time to achieve these dreams, and I have to be mindful about remembering that. 

The life I lead today is full of so many blessings and things I would never want to change. I spent my 24th birthday surrounded by friends, singing a 6 hour karaoke marathon and dancing the night away. That's my life right now and that's enough for me. 

As I get older, I keep approaching milestones ages that I set for myself a long time ago and makes me re-evaluate where I am and who I am. It's valid to feel sad that I'm not there yet, but I'm trying to maintain the perspective that as long as I'm moving forward and doing the best I can, I'm accomplishing my dreams. I would hope my childhood self would be proud to see where I am and where I'm headed, ring on my finger or not! (haha)

So in summary: I turned 24! Here's to a good year ahead :)