As I am about to end the era that is my 20's, I feel it is one of the best times to sit and reflect on all that has gotten me this far, the good and the bad. Sometimes things felt easy, as if I knew exactly what was going to happen next. Yet at other times the unexpected would catch me in the act and cause me to feel as if all my progress had come hurling down. But as the saying goes, rainbows can only come after the storm, life it seems, is pretty parallel to this.
How it Starts
We all have a story. We all have a past. A past that has shaped, guided and taught us all the lessons that we need to be exactly where we are right now. Some of our darkest days, the ones you never thought was going to end, are the reason you are standing right where you are in this moment.
At times it is fair to feel frustrated or even sad about the hand you may have been dealt. As long as after that, you realize how much gratitude you should have for those exact moments and feelings. Being someone who has learned sadness and heartache earlier than a child should, I can confidently say that I am stronger and wiser because of it. We begin to adapt and live our lives in a way that is a response to these situations. This creates our personality traits that carry us throughout the days to come.
When I reached my 20's I thought that life was beginning for me! It was the time where I could really let loose. Nearing the end of my college career and all my plans were starting to come together. It felt as if all of the turmoil from my past was truly in the past and I had the world at my finger tips. I embraced the life I was living and I didn't hold back, which is how I ended up living out a vital part of my 20's the way that I wanted to!
When You Think You've Got it All
Landing my first job out of college was for sure a goal. I was just fortunate enough to land one in the heart of New York City. But this wasn't quite according to the plan. Losing my best friend in college to a drunk driving accident was the absolute darkest time in my life. We had plans to move to Florida together once we both graduated. Nothing felt real and nothing felt in my control. All those years of hard work, school and studying all to feel as though my place in the world was being tested. Although I had lost her, life still was going on and I still had things to do.
With Florida no longer in the picture, getting a job in NYC was just about the most amazing thing that could happen. This took me on a whirlwind of a ride to places and opportunities I just didn't know were possible. For the first time, at 23 years old, I was living on my own doing what (I thought) I wanted to do.
Now don't get me wrong, NYC was everything and more for my mid-20's. As a girl who grew up with a plan, New York City is definitely not one who cares much for them. The city took me by storm and I it. Sure, I have a college degree and sure, that helped here and there. I got a degree because that was what you're supposed to do after high school.
But do you want to know my first secret? Life isn't about following or breaking the rules. Life is about creating and making your own because that's how you live a life worth loving.
The Seasons of Change
I was blessed with opportunities and jobs that opened doors and taught me lessons along the way. As with everything we do in our lives, there were days and moments of uncertainty. Like I mentioned before, I was sure that my game plan was the right plan and that as long as I stuck the course, nothing would teeter too much.
Boy, was I wrong.
As I said earlier as well, I thought my 20's were the IT years for me. I was determined they were the ones that I had been waiting all along for. The freedom to make my own choices and go where I wanted to go when I wanted to, well there didn't seem like much out there that was better than this privilege. Yet as the days went on and I was still trying to find my purpose or place in this world, I began to question myself. What exactly was I doing? What should I be doing with my life? What am I doing wrong?
All of the joys and fun of the NYC life I was living had started to catch up to me. It was one of those feelings, like in a relationship, when you know that it's over but you haven't had the guts to actually break up. That the familiarity of what you are doing is just too comfortable but you know it's not healthy. This was where I was getting too. So let me tell you about secret number two. Rock bottom is the end. It's be birthplace of a new beginning. So reward your struggles by accepting your lowest low and know even on the darkest of nights, the sun will always shine again.
Enough Was Enough
I can remember the exact time of the year and exactly how I was feeling when I knew I had had enough. I had never been one who was capable of being complacent in a position that did not fulfill or satisfy me. Whether it be a job, relationship or anything else, if I was unhappy in it, I would HAVE to move on otherwise my entire SOUL would be affected.
When the time came and I knew that my adventures in NYC had been fulfilled, it hit me like a lightening bolt in the middle of the desert. Hard, with purpose, yet very impactful. Where I was going next, well I couldn't tell you yet. But all I knew was that the universe was reminding me that I had done it. What I wasn't aware of yet was just how difficult and long the journey to that next step would be.
So I'm quite certain that a lot of people are familiar with, and have even experienced, depression. Some have it much harder than others but nonetheless, it is one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome. For me, 2018 was the start of it. The cycle that felt like it was never ending and that I would become one of those robots just going through each day, not living.
Now I know that I am someone who is an extroverted introvert. Meaning that I do enjoy social gatherings but at the same time, I prefer to stay home much more. My energy needs recharging and my mind needs a break. But the fact that my interest in a social life had hit its all time low, that was when I knew something had to shift.
When the Time Was Right
Timing is a large factor in a lot of what determines my decisions about things. Matter of fact, that's the way it is for a lot of people and things. The right time to go to college, the right time to ask that special someone for their hand, the right time to quit a job. We are always in search of the right or most perfect timing. But does it even actually exist? We may try to declare something as the perfect timing for a life event or a big decision, yet at the end of the day, we are not in control of when that time could look like. For all we know, right now could be the perfect time, we just maybe aren't open enough to see it.
When I knew that I was ready to get out of New York, I wanted so badly just to up and go. I knew that wasn't going to workout as I needed to put in a little work for what I was going to do next. This is where things really traveled to the lowest lows and I truly got inside my own head. I knew that I wanted to leave but how and where to go, I wasn't sure yet.
Right at that point, it all came back to me. FLORIDA! Where Catherine and I always talked about ending up after college. Where we spent spring break together the year I turned 21. Now I didn't quite have the financials or the game plan to just up and go - which is what I was more inclined to do. That was the moment I declared I would work my ass off for the next year to make sure that I could move when my opportunity came.
Fast forward a year to 2019. The last year before the world really gave us the middle finger. Even though some life obstacles came about during this transition, when the time came to make these moves, it was as if everything was falling into place. I was experiencing that "perfect timing" moment.
It All Came TOGETHER
First off, I landed an amazing apartment in Ft Lauderdale which I actually didn't even see in person until the day I moved in. Secondly, I was fortunate enough to have had a job interview lined up for once I was settled in down there. And lastly, an old high school friend (who I didn't know was living down here) asked me out for Happy Hour to introduce me to some friends. This was the moment that I had been waiting for. I had had my fun in NYC but this was where I was ready to plant my roots for good.
Moving down here all alone was definitely scary at times. But the excitement, the new adventure at my fingertips, trumped the nerves right away. Did I have a game plan down to a T with my move, not really. But what I did have was faith, courage, and knowledge that this decision was one for me and only me.
Even though I am still figuring life out and my purpose here isn't crystal clear yet, I am most grateful that I did it. That the fear of the unknown or the unplanned didn't deter me from pursuing what mattered most to me; my happiness. The end of my 20's had brought me to paradise.
As I sit here, with just days left until I enter a new decade, there are a million emotions, tons of thoughts, dozens of dreams already brewing, and an appreciation like no other. 30 is a big one to me. It is the one that I feel will bring growth, new perspective, and maybe a few more creaks and cracks. My 20's taught me heartache, loss, love, courage, adventure, patience (even if it's just a little), but most of all, how to be selfish. And that my friends, is my third secret. Be selfish! You only have this live to live and if you aren't living it for you, then how the heck are you going to enjoy yourself?
Even though I am not aiming to place high expectations for something magical to happen now that I am in my 30's, I still am beyond excited for the new chapter it will start. One that I can use to reach my goals and ambitions. The experiences and memories that I carry with me into this new decade are ones that have and will always serve a purpose. No matter where you come from or what you are going through, don't wait for the perfect time, be a part of the creation of that perfect timing.
Be like the Lotus; trust in the light, grow through the dirt, believe in new beginnings.