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. 

I don't ever want to retire.

Today I met the cleaner for one of the apartments I photographed. There was a scheduling conflict and instead of me showing up to a clean apartment that was ready for photographs, I showed up at the same time as the cleaner, Bonnie, to a messy apartment that was not ready to be photographed. We decided that she would quickly clean one room at a time, and I would follow behind her with my camera, photographing each room as it was finished. It wasn’t ideal, but I also didn’t want to have to reschedule this photo shoot. So as Bonnie wiped the counters, made the bed, etc., etc., etc. (me snapping photos as soon as she was finished), we chatted.

Bonnie was quick on her feet and incredibly friendly. She didn’t look a day over 50 and so I was quite surprised when she said she was 70. She told me how much she loved her job, loved cleaning, *loved* doing laundry, was also a seamstress and at one point had owned her own laundromat before deciding to clean apartments. She told me about all of the spaces she cleaned, and all the laundry she did, and how busy she kept. I asked her about retirement. “No, I could never retire. I don’t ever want to retire. What would I do if I retired? I love to work, so I keep working! It keeps me young. My husband retired for a few years and he got bored, so he went back to work. And that’s what we do, we work and we love it. I love my job!”

I hope I never retire either. I hope that I am in a position where I can afford to retire, but I hope I don’t actually retire. I’ve never thought of myself as the type to retire, but then again, I don’t know. I know that when my husband and I go on trips, we get bored after a few days if we aren't able to work, and perhaps that's because both of our jobs are creative, and creating for us is like breathing. All I know is that I want my each and every day to be as happy and pleasant as Bonnie’s days are. I want to love what I do, even if it’s not the greatest job or moment. I want to live passionately and love deeply. I want to work hard and never stop. I want to be thankful for each day, even if it seems small and insignificant. I want to live like Bonnie, and I don’t ever want to retire.