Tuesday, May 24, 2011

25: A love letter of sorts ...

This post has been in the works for almost 2 weeks now. ...But tonight, inspired by this beautiful post from a beautiful friend, I write:

Dear Me,

At the moment this post is published, I am 25 years, one week, and 3 days old, exactly. A belated 'Happy Birthday'! ... Welcome to the 2nd quarter century of life!

And what a journey it's been <3 This past year was a good one for me: a year of settling in, adapting, growing... thriving. The growth was not without some 'growing pains', of course, but I'm beginning to learn that the best lessons are hard won; and that sometimes in order to be happy you need to work hard for it... and that's okay.

I'm beginning to learn who I am and what makes me happy -- what I might be good at. I'm beginning to grow into myself and really get comfortable in my own skin. This year I have discovered vibrant passions for writing, running, cooking & (gasp!) yard work. I am learning how to speak my mind when my heart leads me. I am learning how to be a wife.

I'm learning, more than ever, that the only opinion I should really take to heart is my own. I'm learning that when something feels wrong, it's probably because it is. ... Life is too short to settle, and if I'm unhappy, perhaps it's time to move on. I'm learning that, while I pride myself on being a good listener, my kindred spirits are those that let me speak my mind.

I'm learning that tears can be a good thing. That real butter makes all the difference, and that 3 glasses of wine once in a while never hurt anyone. I'm learning that girl friends are absolutely invaluable, and that I'd rather spend a Friday night in snuggling with my husband than 'out on the town'. I'm learning that a little elbow grease can burn through a bad mood, and that a long lunchtime walk in the sunshine can cast a positive light on the rest of the workday.

I'm learning that sometimes the hardest step is the first one; that if you allow room for doubt, it will slip in... and that, if you are not vigilant, doubt can take you down before you realize it.

I am learning how to, for the first time, truly take responsibility for my happiness and future. Life is lovely if you passively sit back and give thanks, but it can be heady & intoxicating & vibrant if you move forward with purpose. I'm learning that I really can do just about anything I set my mind to, and that sometimes, the best laid plans are those that you do not lay for yourself... but those that you get laid into.

This last year has been absolutely pivotal.

Tonight, as I sit quietly with Gracie (who is snoozing across the room) glass of wine in hand, I allow myself to take a step back and really take stock of my life. I meditate on this question: Am I where I thought I would be at 25? When I was 20, did I ever dream I would be *here*?

And I find, first of all, that this is a harder question than I would have imagined. I mean, first of all, I need to remember where I was 5 years ago. (Which sounds ridiculous, but I lived a lot of different places when I was in college --engineering co-ops took me to 4 different states!)

When I turned 20, I had just started my first co-op, and was living on my own, for the first time, in Romulus, MI. I had just finished up my sophomore year of college, and Jon and I had just renewed our dating relationship after an almost 6 month hiatus. I was in a good place. A place ripe with promise.

I have great memories from all my co-ops, but my MI co-op holds a special place in my heart because it was my first. It was my first time being on my own, and that was life changing for me. I had always suspected that I'd do fine on my own, and I did. I loved it. Of course, living by myself wasn't always awesome. I remember one especially poignant moment, sitting in the bathtub at 8 pm on the 4th of July, drinking a wine cooler & feeling sorry for myself. ... But I'm pretty sure even that was good for me :)

When I look back on that summer, I remember running through downtown Romulus, evening trips to the library & curling up in bed every night and working my way through The Chronicles of Narnia. I remember carefully packing lunch every evening (bagel sandwich: light mayonnaise, turkey, cheddar cheese) and watching movies on my 10" tv screen. I remember eating a lot of frozen vegetables that summer :) When I look back, I am overwhelmed by the sense of confidence & comfort. Perhaps this is what nostalgia is, that vague longing and sense of, "oh yeah, that felt right." ...

Back to the point (I blame my 2nd glass of wine): I think that when I was 20, I never would have dreamed that I would be as settled as I am now. I'm pretty sure that if my 20 year old self met my 25 year old self, she would pat *me* on the head and say, "Aww. It's all right. You're doing fine."


And I would wrap my arms around my 20 year old self and hold on just a little longer than she felt comfortable with, whispering, "It's more than all right. It's perfect. You're perfect."

I feel in my bones that this next year is going to be a year of movement for me. I've all ready taken a big step... and each second I am one breath closer to making promises a reality. And there's something else big (for me) on the horizon, too. Something I've been to scared to change in the past, but now I'm too convicted not to move. It's time to take some big chances. ... I deserve it.

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
~Harriet Tubman

Hang in there, Amy. Keep believing and dreaming. There is so much good to come this year ... I can just feel it.

Love, Me

(*I'm sorry for the "vague-ry" ... right now I'm writing dreamy reveal posts that I hope to make a reality sometime soon. So excited to share with you as soon as I'm able!)