25 Things I did at 25

  1. Didn’t get bangs. Thank you to my concerned friends and family for steering me away from that choice. I would have looked like Pepper Ann.
  2. Witnessed my mother return to nursing school. A decade sprawled between when she started this and where she is now. She isn’t done. and I am thrilled that she didn’t give up. Go, mama, go!
  3. I left a job that weighed on me like a ton of bricks. I left a job that had me dreading to wake up Mon-Friday. I left that job on my terms, with my values. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of me.
  4. Traveled abroad for the third time. Travel is always worth it. It’s expensive, time-consuming, risky. There’s a greater risk in never engaging with this big, wide world. The risk of staying in your bubble is far more than that of venturing outside of it. Buy the plane ticket, meet those people. Money comes and goes. It’s fluid. Time is finite, and it is our duty as people to make the most of it.
  5. Deadlifted 160lbs. Chest pressed 90 lbs.
  6. Finally made it to the Field of Concrete Corn in Dublin, Ohio. If you haven’t seen my pictures from that day, you are missing out. Vogue magazine hailed it as “the most riveting visual representation of tomfoolery”.
  7. When the depression wouldn’t lift, became lacerations on my wrists, i checked myself into the emergency room. I can’t tell you that it isn’t scary or hard or that I wasn’t in a complete state of shock. All I can say is that when the choice came between ending my life or doing something unthinkable, I’m glad I went with the latter. I’m humbled and embarrassed, but my choice to seek help is evidence that I want to be here, even if I have a hard time living in my own head.
  8. Watched Nina West represent Columbus, Ohio in the most magnificent way.
  9. I fell in love. I entered my first relationship, and I was as corny and annoying as those girls who had their first relationship at fifteen– over posts and sappy texts. I guess I should be embarrassed, but I’m not. Life is short and sometimes bitter. I have to celebrate the glimmering bits with all the gratitude, to cherish those fleeting moments with complete joy.
  10. I marveled at my community– how immediately they loved my significant other, greeting her with open arms and unending support. People have told me that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time around. If that is true, I am nothing short of magic. I love my people, and I am indescribably grateful for them.
  11. Had my first breakup from said relationship, and hot damn, it is as painful as all the movies made it out to be! A friend said the neurological response to a break up is like drug withdrawal, which is to say that it is excruciating. She is right. That shit hurts. Shout out to my big brother for taking care of me during those first few days. I love you, and I am grateful for you. We are two sides of the same coin, the same fibers in different bodies. You’re my first best friend, and it is a joy to have you in my life.
  12. Good is not the only response to “how are you”. It is not my job to sanitize myself for other people’s comfort, but I also don’t get to be upset if they can’t handle my honesty. In the end, other people’s feelings about us are movable data points and that’s it.
  13. I saw Beyonce in concert, and if god had a sound, it would be On the Run Tour 2.
  14. Trusted Karma.
  15. This one comes from my friend, Ray: there’s a difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Self-indulgence isn’t wrong, but calling spray tans and blowouts and superficial things care is not entirely accurate.
  16. I entered intensive therapy. I took three weeks off work. It was expensive and emotionally draining, and the best thing I have ever done for myself.
  17. I didn’t purge. Not once.
  18. I surrendered my dream of being skinny. I stopped caring about the frailty of my body and allowed it to consume all the might it dreamed of. I allocated my lethal ambition for greater, brighter, shinier things. I realized I didn’t want to be one of those vapid women who made herself that way by only talking about her diet. I still struggle with food and control. But I also embrace that I love my body. I love myself, and I don’t wish there were less of me.
  19. Speaking of things that don’t nourish me, I learned to quit holding onto people like I’m plugging a leaking ship. It isn’t my job to stay aboard what is sinking. I cannot live in this frantic state of retaining expired relationships. It isn’t within my responsibility to do that. I can swim without them, even if the strokes are lonely. I can’t waste all this energy chasing people, saving people, winning people over. The purpose of my life is greater than a campaign to get you to like me.
  20. Moved 3 times. Why, self, why?
  21.  Risked likability to stay true. I refused to bleach the vibrancy of my truth to preserve “civility”. I held people who hurt me accountable. Likability is a prison for women. I’ll be the bitch, the cautionary tale, the woman with a mouth like a fire escape where the words come sprinting out.
  22. Made a living choice that wasn’t for me and summoned the courage to leave because that’s what was best for me.
  23. “It’s much easier to cause pain than to feel pain”.– Brene Brown. I felt my pain rather than causing more of it.
  24. People don’t intimidate or weaponize other people’s vulnerabilities when they feel empowered. They do it when they feel threatened. It isn’t a feat of strength to mangle another person’s hurt, to use it against them. Rather, it is the definition of cowardice.
  25. Stopped waiting for closure and just moved on.

I have eight days left in my 25th year. I want to call 25 a garbage fire– the Fyre Festival of my twenties, but it wasn’t. Pride was one of the best days of my life. I made professional strides, and I kept my mile time under six minutes. The past two weeks have been ROUGH. But I’ve survived entire years that felt like Billy McFarland ruined them, and I’m still here. This is an inventory of all the ways I’ve gotten my ass kicked this year. This is how I atone for my failures and applaud where I was brave. Reflection realigns things I’d rather look away from. The only times I look back are to make sure I’m on the right path, and if I’m not, I have to summon the gall to pick a new path.

This life is a good life. Lessons pound on the doors of our lives until we are brave enough to open. I am open. And it is entirely within your right to gawk at the weird, loud, extra, queer Muppet of a woman who puts her life on display, but I will never not be the woman in the arena. I will be a tryer and a doer and propel myself forward– even if that is one face fall at a time because that is the life I signed up for. And that’s the way I’m going into 26: brave and flawed and fabulous.

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