This Is 25: I Feel 25

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The day before my 11th birthday - the first one without my mom - I plopped down at the corner of my grandma’s bed and cried. It was a Friday night and all the words that I could muster were that I didn’t want the birthday party the next day, life was hard and I’d rather just skip it all.

It’s been 15 years since that day and life both has and hasn’t gotten any easier. I’ve both changed a lot and in no ways at all.

Two days before my 25th birthday I plopped down on the side of my boyfriend’s bed, covered my face with a pillow, and asked him to wake me up when 26 came around.

Life has been hard and, I guess, to some degree you never lose the days when you want to just skip it all.

The last few weeks of 24 tested me. I found myself crying at the cemetery, praying to my mom, more than once. I stood on holy ground and asked her if I was doing this life thing right, if rough patches in relationships were normal, if shifting friendships said more about the stage in my life I was entering than they did about the stage I was leaving behind, if my prioritization of family preluded my realization that one day I would be starting one of my own. I waited for answers the same way I wait for birthday wishes to come true every single year, patiently and with unfaltering faith that they would.

I learned to commit hard truths to paper and I started learning how to commit to people. I let my shoulders slump down as I let love in. I banged my head up against walls when the love was tested and instinct yelled 'run,' while faith whispered 'stay.' I found myself at crossroads that begged the question 'what does commitment look like?' and 'when do we know we've committed?' 

I found answers at the end of forgiveness. I found peace of mind at the end of gentle touches and laughs and bottles of $13 wine. I learned that forgiveness can be given, even when it's not asked for because I learned that sometimes words don't matter, feelings do. 

Sitting in dark rooms with red solo cups with red wine, candles, and my humanity as my only friends, I let go of bravado, ego, and the costume I wore so well - the one of a woman in control.

I surrendered. I'm walking into 25 with a smidgen more of understanding of what surrendering looks like and when it's the prelude to peace, not failure. I let go of the belief that my story being interwoven with pain, that at times can feel so singular, has in any way exempted me from ever feeling pain again. As reality would have it, I'm more likely to feel it viscerally, to sink in it tragically. 

I walk into 25 completely exposed, aware of my strengths, my weaknesses, the way I analyze the world, the way I give my shoulders to others, the way I've learned to take them back for myself. I walk into 25 knowing my power, and understanding that my humanity needs faith because not everything fits into an excel spreadsheet. I need forces in my life that are greater than Google Docs. 

I walk into 25 anchored in myself. No small feat for a girl who walked into therapy 4 years ago lost and overwhelmed. 

In 2013, we talked about giving me anchors that would carry me through harder moments, through moments that test faith, and love, and time. Back then I thought we were talking about anchors to guide me through the specific kind of grief I was feeling, the one attached to loss and loved ones buried 6 feet under. I was wrong. The just turned 21-year-old me couldn't have imagined a time when she would feel her own age, when she would need anchors to deal with fights with her boyfriend, career hiccups, or first-apartment jitters.

But, here I am. Here she is. Anchored in herself, living life like a newly crowned 25-year-old who fought for the right to be 25 and now gets to live the blessing of figuring out what that means.