The Year I Was 23

I turned 24 last Friday. Of course I wanted to post this on my actual birthday, but, well, that didn’t happen, obvi.

Last year on my 23rd birthday I went to work as a reporter for My co-workers (really, just my BFF’s) made me choclate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. They also took me to lunch (Mexican, duh), and I don’t recall working much that day. More than 130 people wrote on my Facebook wall. (Yeah, so I take note of that kind of stuff, okay?). My husband surprised me with new clothes and some new jewelry that he picked out himself, and I was very impressed. It was a very good, sunshiney day, and that weekend one of my good friends who now lives in NYC (Hi Chel!) came to visit, and we all went out in Lawrence.

On my 24th birthday, it was gloomy and rainy, and I went to work. Most of my co-workers were gone on a conference. I went to lunch with a friend. About 100 people wrote on my Facebook wall. Maybe the other 30 unfriended me because they got sick of me talkin’ ’bout politics all da time. Or maybe I’m just paranoid, or whatever. I spent the evening and the rest of the weekend with my family in Wichita, and it was great. My husband got me a Keurig, and set it all up for me earlier that week.

A year is both long and short at the same time. A lot has changed this past year, and a lot has stayed the same.  But I feel like if you don’t sit down and reflect on these things, all the years will pass you by, and they will all be a blur, and you won’t appreciate where you came from and how far you’ve come. So here, I am, appreciating and reflecting on my 23rd year of life.

The year I was 23, I ran seven 5K races. SEVEN. What was once a distant and seemingly impossible goal is now a way of life. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I could even run one 5K. If you had told me a few years ago, that I would be a runner, I never would have believed you. Goals for my 24th year include a 10K and a half-marathon. Bring it.

The year I was 23, I left the world of traditional journalism to begin a career path in activism and advocacy. And now that I’m here, I’m not really sure why I didn’t pursue this kind of work sooner. I suppose there are many reasons.

But I’ve never been happier. In fact, my life is so great, and I’m counting my blessings so much, that I’m kind of cautiously waiting for something big to blow up in my face. Like, so many people are suffering so much, and I’m just over here in rainbow la la land. But, things could also be better. In fact, things could be a lot better if I really took the time to think about it and dwell on it. But I don’t. So maybe that’s the reason. Not because my life is devoid of suffering, but because I’ve chosen to see the good. At least I’d like to think that….although I know that loving my job and being financially stable helps.

The year I was 23 I started attending a Unitarian Universalist church (Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church to be exact). After visiting a couple times, I was hooked. I joined in October 2012. I had no idea what Unitarian Universalism was until I stumbled upon it in a google search last fall. I have been thinking about writing a post about my religious journey for a while, so I won’t go into details right now. I’ll just say that I had no idea church could be this way, and I am so happy I have found a spiritual home that fits me better than any other church I’ve ever been to.

All, in all, my 23rd year was pretty great. Steven and I took a trip to Chicago, we saw several of our friends get married (I cried every time), and learned better how to navigate life together. We’re definitely a better team than we were the year I was 22, and hopefully we’ll be better next year too.

I will say this about being 23, and maybe I will feel this way about being 24 too. I know I’m young, and really, so far my twenties have been fabulous, and I have a feeling I will look back lovingly on these years as some of the best of my life. But sometimes….sometimes I wish I were older. I wish I had the wisdom that my parents and my older co-workers have. I wish I knew how to do more things — how to make curtains, how to not look like a fool at the tag office, how to not be weird in a professional setting, how to upholster furniture or sew a missing button back on my favorite blazer.

Many of these things I have managed to do, and others I can obviously learn. It’s just that sometimes I envy those adults who seem to know everything, who seem to really have it figured out. Who make this whole life thing look easy, who can sew curtains and buttons in their sleep, and who have been working in their careers longer than I have been alive, sometimes much longer than I have been alive. I long for the knowledge and experience that would save me from so many mistakes. I long to know how to more effectively handle tough situations and tough people. I long to know the right thing to say at the right time.

I know it’s all trial and error, learning and growing, and I can’t expect (nor wish to have) the knowledge and wisdom that only comes with age. I know this learning and growing is part of what makes life beautiful, and I have to make mistakes. But will I ever get there? Will I ever learn all of the things?

Yes, I will, just like my parents did, and their parents did, and I know it was the hard times and mistakes that created their wisdom. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the day when some other young, idealistic twenty-something is asking me how.