Trial & Error

by She Flies With Her Own Wings

When I was 15, and someone asked me where I was going to be in 10 years, my response was something along the lines of “Well, I’ll be 25 years old. I’ll be into my career, own my own home. I’ll likely be married and have a child or two”. That’s about where I thought I’d be at age 25 from the time I was 10 years old until the time I was probably 18 years old or so.

Last year, on my 25th birthday, I couldn’t help but laugh… I was single, unemployed, and living at home. If someone had told my 12 or 15 year-old self that that’s where I was going to be at 25, that 12 year-old girl would have laughed and said “Yeah right. Not me!”

I decided that 25 was going to be my year. Days before my 25th birthday I had accepted my dream internship at Mercy Corps and made plans to move to Portland. I was preparing to compete for Miss Oregon USA 2016, and things were looking up! This was going to be there year I started my career. It was going to be the year I found my place in a new city. It was going to be the year I found love. Things were finally coming together. 25 was going to be my year!

Well, I loved my dream internship. But I also learned how difficult it is to get a job at Mercy Corps. I came just short of Miss Oregon USA 2016. I spent months applying for jobs that I was over-qualified for and learning how difficult it was to get a job in general. I was relieved to finally get an interview, but then walked out of the interview knowing the job wasn’t for me. I accepted anyway, because it was a job.

My anxiety and depression danced and lingered around me. Taunting me with every move.

I didn’t find love. In fact, I broke someone’s heart. I also learned how difficult and awful dating in your mid-twenties can be.

I was given the opportunity to compete for Miss Oregon USA 2017 while still being 25; this was my chance to end 25 on a good note. To end 25 on the note I had hoped to start it. It was my second chance… but my second chance didn’t work out either. I failed. Again.

On a drive back up to Portland after a weekend at home, I was doing some serious soul-searching. I wasn’t happy with where I was or what I was doing. I found myself in roughly the same place I was a year before. The change of job, change of location… nothing seemed to help. Things weren’t going as planned. But really, when does life ever really go as planned?!

I made the last minute decision to apply for graduate school and pursue my Masters in Teaching. Something I had always wanted to do, but just didn’t think I’d be doing it for a few more years. It hasn’t been an easy road, and it’s not over yet. There have been days I wanted to quit. Days I just wanted to go home. Days I just wanted to be a kid again…

I have loved seeing my friends begin their careers. Buy a house. Get engaged, married, and start a family. But sometimes I can’t help but feel like their lives are coming together while I’m spinning in circles going nowhere. I’m a very independent, hard-headed, strong-willed woman; however, I do find myself getting more lonely, and there I days that I wish I didn’t come home to an empty house and crawl into an empty bed.

Reflecting on the last year, I did’t want to celebrate turning 26. I didn’t want to get my hopes up that this year was going to be different. Heck I wanted to skip it if at all possible. This last year has definitely been a year of trial and error. But with those trials have come a lot of lessons – a lot of stories and a lot of memories. I’ve gown up. Which I guess is part of the process of becoming an adult.

I’m grateful that my friends and family encouraged me to take the time to celebrate. To reflect. To breathe. To simply just be. Thank you for spending the weekend with me and showering me with love.

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Let me tell the tale of a girl who didn’t stop, who climbed up every mountain without a pause upon the top. She’d dance until each blade of grass was clothed in drops of dew, and the sun knew her by name but the silver moon did too. For a fear had settled in her bones; a fear of sitting still, that if you’re not moving forward it must mean you never will. So in time her dance got slower and she looked at all she’d seen, but found gaps inside the places that he’s never fully been, for she was a human doing human moving, human seeing, but she’d never taken time to simply be a human being.

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I’d be lying if I said 26 wasn’t off to a great start … I’ve made it this far in life without having to have surgery, and the year I can no longer be on my parents insurance, is the year I get to have not one, but two expensive surgeries. I got to spend ‘my day’ dealing with providers, surgical centers, talking insurance – in and out of network – and applying for OHP/OHA.  It was like the worlds way of saying Happy Birthday – welcome to being an adult! Here’s to 26. Cheers! As if I didn’t hate the thought of being cut into and having my bones broken enough, lets just add a fat bill to that.

But I like to keep in mind that things could always be worse. I’m a pretty fortunate person, even if sometimes I don’t feel like it. It’s all about perspective.

Maybe since this year isn’t off to a great start, it’ll end on a great note. Maybe this year will be MY year! You never know unless you try – so here’s to never giving up hope.

So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.

If I could summarize the lessons of 25, it would be this…

Don’t let this world make you bitter. Don’t let the actions of other people turn you cold on the inside. Certain things happen that hurt us. People come that leave. And most of all there are moments when you’re bound to fall. Don’t let those things make you unkind. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be sad. We’re human. We break. We make mistakes. But don’t let pain and sadness run our lives. Wake up in the morning and do what you think is right. There are moments in your life where you feel like giving up and you can’t take it anymore. It’s ok. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. I know you’re weak. But the things that show your weak side are also the same ones that make you stronger in the long run. It’s all about taking whatever life throws at you and learning from it.

So to God, or the spirits, or Karma, or whatever is out there… I’m ready.

It’s been a year of change: some good, some bad, some hard, some unexpected, and some encouraging. So here’s to 26 – may you be the best year yet!

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Thank you to everyone for all of the love and birthday wishes! I’m feeling very blessed and fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life!.

This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to figure it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.

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