I recently had another birthday, a rather low-key affair filled with wine and cupcakes and weighted blankets. For a long time, February 1 was a day of anxiety and trying desperately to keep my expectations low. It was hard to not keep track of who remembered to call/text, or worry about a possible blizzard putting a damper on dinner or weekend party plans. Getting worked up over either of those things would ultimately suck the joy out of the real, most meaningful part of celebrating.
I’m here and I’m alive.
A few people have asked me if I feel old(er), and I can’t say that’s the case. I feel lighter, less focused on my age and more on my personal well-being. At twenty-five, I was in the grips of an eating disorder that I had yet to come to terms with, along with constant anxiety regarding my professional and personal life. I’ve gotten a lot better at putting my mental and physical health first, focusing less on perfection and more on presence.
Whenever I’ve picked a word for the year, I went with something flashy and appealing. It would motivate me at first, but then the expectations would become heavy, which resulted in a lot of discouragement. As 2018 began, I knew I needed to go back to the not-so-fluffy, the not-quite feel-good, and perhaps a little cliched basics.
I needed to learn how to trust. Genuinely and whole-heartedly.
Trust the process.
In some respects I’ve appeared too trusting, depending on the situation. But it was less about trust and more about ignorance. There have been numerous times where I’ve made a choice and my entire being is practically screaming at me that it’s not a good idea. I would lose sleep and then wake up feeling sick to my stomach.
The quest for perfectionsim and reassurance makes trusting anyone or anything an uphill battle. ‘Hold on loosely’ would render a sense of passivity and helplessness. I could either be in control or be a doormat, and as the years went by I grew tired of being the latter.
But you can only cling to certain things for so long before your hands start to blister and bleed. Infections set in. Eventually, you have to choose between either living or dying.
Trust. Vulnerability. Resilience. Those are all muscles, and the only way you make them stronger is to exercise.
As much as I’ve questioned Evangelical Christianity over the years, my faith in God alone is truly the only consistent thing I have. Relationships will take different shapes. Careers take different directions. And physical beauty changes.
I’ve taken a lot of time to get to know myself, to acknowledge and not sugar coat what’s healthy and what isn’t. Intuition is a powerful voice, and I will not allow anyone to silence it.
And some answers are not meant to be found right away, if at all. Sometimes “I don’t know” is the only thing that makes sense. You have to let the map unfold before you can fully trace the path.
This is still fairly new to me, and I’m not sure how to end this post. I pray that those closest to me will keep me accountable, reminding me that what is already here is what is meant to be experienced.
Here’s to twenty-six.
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