Am I supposed to feel different? 

This is my last year in my 20s. For awhile,  the thought freaked me out; however, now, I feel indifferent to it. Perhaps it’s that I don’t have the same energy as I used to, that is, to “age” and be excited that I’m becoming the person I’ve always dreamed of becoming. The person I always wanted to be when I grew up. Now I’m simply grown up. It isn’t this distant desire; it’s just my day to day. 

Plus, it’s just a number and I’m still me. Never again will I be a young adult, but I also don’t want to go back to those days. I am much happier and I'm content with who I am, now, at 29 (tomorrow).

But, being the last year of my 20s, how do I make this one count? 

I want to stop caring about what people think about me, or as others might say, I want to not give a ____. Apparently, I do give some _____ to not type the word ____, but it's my own personal preference and not because others expect me to say/not say something.

I’ve always been a worrier, and I spent so much of my 20s worrying. I knew, even at 22, that if I kept on worrying, one day, at 29, I’d regret it. Sure enough, I regret it. I regret how much I worried. A lot of the worry was to do with my future–if I would marry my dream guy, if I’d find a career that made me happy, stuff like that–but a lot of my worry was also about what others thought of me. I’m a people pleaser, perhaps a curse of being an INFJ, but these past few weeks it’s suddenly dawned on me: I don’t have to please people. I don't have to care whether people like me or not. I don’t have to give any _____. I can just be me.

It’s not that I don’t want to care for people or be sensitive to how my actions affect others, that’s not it at all. In fact, I want to continue being vulnerable, with myself and with others . I want to love deeper and have more compassion. What I don't want is people pleasing controlling my life, jeopardizing who I am, what I stand for and how I wish to be. 

I think about all of my years as a ballet dancer, standing in front of a mirror, watching my body move. I realize this discipline made me so aware of how I appear to others that, unbeknownst to me, I became obsessed with it and it ruled my entire life. It has caused me to hold back parts of myself, instead of allowing myself to dance freely as a child, the child I was before I cared about what I looked like in a mirror/to others. 

So, here’s to the art of simply being me and not caring about the judgement of others.

Here's to the art of not giving a ____.

Here’s to not worrying, and letting life happen how it’s going to happen.

Here’s to being  my honest self, my whole self, my flawed self,  my wandering self.

Here’s to being me, and giving me all I’ve got. 

20 years ago.

20 years ago I was rocking out to Zombie by The Cranberries, and here I am, still belting out the lyrics at the top of my lungs. My parents only let me listen to Christian music, which sucked, because most Christian music sucks, but somehow, I was allowed to listen to The Cranberries on a cassette tape. 


20 years ago I thought our house was sooo ugly. I’d complain to my mom that we lived in a dump (my poor mother) and that all of my friends at school had cooler, bigger, brighter houses than ours. And here I am, in love with quirky, old homes that are falling apart. Projects, to rebuild, spaces, to recreate. 


20 years ago I begged my mom to let me go to school. Homeschooling was lonely, and before I knew it, I was chasing boys and being chased and getting mad but secretly flattered that we wanted to kiss one another on the cheek.


20 years ago, I slapped my sister across her bare chest, and she began to wail. My dad came running into the room and asked me what had happened. I told the usual story, she tripped, fell, stubbed her toe, for my sister was too young to talk and correct the scenario. Until that day, when she finally communicated that her older sister had smacked her because I wanted her to GET OUT OF MY ROOM and that was the last time I ever smacked her. 


20 years ago, I remember throwing pillows all over the living room floor, my sister and I laughing as we jumped from pillow to pillow, careful of the lava!, each pretending we were Yoshi characters, one of us yellow, the other purple. 


20 years ago I remember my first heartache, when my two best friends gave one another a best friend necklace, but not me. I was friend number three, and I cried and cried on that bench that day, my face buried in my mom’s lap as I explained to her the devastation that had occurred between sobs. 


20 years ago I remember falling on the wooden steps, my back slamming onto the wooden slats, gasping for air, feeling for the first time what it felt like to have the wind knocked out of me.


20 years ago I remember swinging as high as I could on my neighbors swing set. Once I got high enough, I was able to see the little boy next door hiding behind his couch watching me from the window. Higher, I pumped my legs, even higher, and I kept swinging, finally high enough to get a full glance of his curious face. I waved and smiled, his eyes startled, and I don’t know if I ever saw him again.


20 years ago I remember walking to my Grandma’s house because my Grandpa didn’t show up to take me home from school. Thirty minutes later, my Grandpa came home in a panic because he looked everywhere for my at school but I wasn’t there. Somehow, I walked right past him. 


20 years ago, I remember my sister and I running around the house in only our underwear yelling, SUPER UNDERWEAR GIRLS, both of us, determined to be our own superheroes. 


20 years ago, I remember begging my sister to let me sleep in her room because I was too scared to sleep in my own room in the basement. Reluctantly, she let me, again and again, until finally she moved her room downstairs, too. 


20 years ago, and I still feel like I am the same human being who inhabits my body now, except 20 years ago, I was a seven year old girl trying to make sense of the world which existed from my house all the way to Ashley’s house three blocks down the street. 


20 years ago, I knew I was going to get married at 20 and have kids at 21 and have a magnificent career as an underwater photographer or a ballerina or an eye doctor and 20 years later, I’m still trying to figure it out. 


It’s so funny, when I think about it, I became a photographer, though I’m not much of a swimmer. I continued doing ballet for 16 years until I realized I didn’t want to have to start smoking to stay skinny and calm my nerves before another performance. And I’m even working part time as an Optician of-sorts while I finish my degree. I didn’t realize that all three of those childhood dreams actually all played out in their own way until this exact moment of typing this.


Life is this strangely complex and beautiful creature that causes us to rise each morning and (try to) fall asleep each night and we’re just riding along, kids in these grown up bodies trying to figure out what to do with ourselves.