“I seem to grow more acutely conscious of the swift passage of time as I grow older.” -Sylvia Plathe
This weekend I celebrated my twenty-seventh birthday and all I could think about was the fact that it’d been two full years since I turned twenty-five. I remember sitting down in front of my birthday cake in 2020, contemplating the previous two worst years of my life. I closed my eyes, blew out my pink candles, and made a wish. All I desired was healing, fulfillment, and strength.
Those horrible years were now behind me. I could feel it was time for a pivotal change.
While I was overly optimistic about the year 2020 and had no idea that a global pandemic was upon us, I was correct in my prediction that it was a year that completely altered the course of my life. I recently published a piece about how 2021 was a strenuous growth spurt, but it couldn’t have possibly been so effective if it weren’t for the drastic perspective changes that came in 2020.
That year, I’d come up with a list of commitments regarding how I can take control and improve my mid-to-late twenties — which only happens once. My main goal was to finally become the kick-ass woman I always aspired to be and knew I had somewhere deep down inside.
For the past two years, I’ve been working on these ideas. Now that another birthday has passed, it’s time to hold myself accountable. I still have the list I wrote that January and I’m ready to assess my development.
1) I commit to constantly challenging my own perspectives and learning something new from every experience.
This commitment seems like a very basic one, but it is the reason I am able to face challenges with ease nowadays — the past two years have had plenty of those to offer. There haven’t been many quiet moments since 2020 began.
This was the year I published an essay about sexual violence that would shake up my life more than I ever thought possible. That being said, I don’t regret a thing. In fact, I’ll always be grateful for what the experience taught me about myself and the world. Since then, I’ve worked hard to cultivate a perspective of hope and looking forward.
In the past, my mind had grown accustomed to gravitating towards the worst-case scenario. A defeatist attitude was warranted in most cases that year, but I realized it always left me feeling hopeless and heavy. It was certainly a challenge to shift away from this thinking, but worth it.
My philosophy is now “Every experience is a learning experience” paired with the constant inner questioning of “What have I learned from this?” Changing my thought process has made it so these burdens feel much lighter when they hit. It’s almost as if I can more readily accept obstacles knowing that there exists a greater purpose to focus on.
This new outlook is not as simple as what is similarly touted by advocates of toxic positivity — “Everything happens for a reason” or, “Don’t let it get you down, roll with the punches!” I made sure to create room for the fact that there will be damage and dark feelings, and it’s important to be honest about this.
Keeping my focus on what I can build after the darkness is over has allowed me to be more successful as I go on, even if I’m struggling.
2) I commit to having a growth mindset and surrounding myself with open-minded people.
To add to the first commitment, this one was written so that I set boundaries for myself in regards to friends who may not be moving at the speed I desire to. In the past, I would befriend anyone and everyone because I tend to see the good in people.
I’ve learned over the years that doing this without setting boundaries can have seriously negative effects on my life. This is a commitment that I have stayed true to, even though it forced me to eliminate certain people from my immediate circle. This includes one of my best friends, who was someone I always thought I’d be close to.
Our attachment was unhealthy and it stunted my growth to remain in the relationship. There was a very abrupt and painful moment in 2020 when it became apparent to me that if I did not separate from my friend, my life would stay the same. I would stay the same, circling back into the same toxic patterns over and over.
I decided that I not only craved, but deserved more. I owed it to myself to demand better. Holding others to these standards made new friendships much more meaningful.
3) I commit to saving and learning to strategically invest my money so that in the future I can travel and experience new things.
The past two years have been rough on me, financially. Before the pandemic hit, I did take a few classes about investing in hopes that I could set aside extra money from my paycheck every week. However, this was when I had a stable full-time job.
What I didn’t know was that, months later, I would lose this job due to covid. I’ve struggled in and out of unemployment several times since then. Luckily, the small amount of money I was able to invest before I lost my job definitely came in handy while I faced hardships down the road.
I haven’t yet been able to decide what to do in these ambiguous financial circumstances with an economy that isn’t exactly working for the working class. The next chance I get to invest my money, I will.
However, I have begun to feel that having a savings account is less important to me than experiencing life’s pleasures while I still can. What I am committed to working on is finding a healthy balance between super saving and reckless hedonistic spending.
4) I commit to setting the enormity of my passions and desires free in this lifetime. If I do happen to find love, I will commit to working hard to cultivate a healthy relationship based on mutual respect, trust, communication, and growth.
I met my boyfriend, Eric, towards the end of 2020. I definitely did not see him coming. You’d think the timing was less than ideal, but our souls collided so effortlessly. At a time in my life when nothing seemed to be certain, being together made too much sense.
I was finally able to experience a true, healthy passion for someone while feeling safe to express it freely. Our love story is one that continues to inspire me each day. I recently released a series of romantic poetry inspired by the beautiful development of our relationship, and it is hands down one of my favorite creations.
Our attachment is not of co-dependency or desperation. We are best friends. We are teammates. The joy I feel in his presence has helped me through the roughest times 2021 had to offer. Although this commitment was conditional, I’m pleased to say it is one I have stuck to.
5) I commit to falling in love with myself and my life enough to be happy when I am alone.
I sure spent an awful lot of time alone for the past two years. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was horrified by the idea of isolation. Being alone made me feel depressed and anxious. I was always trying to call or text new people to avoid facing my own thoughts.
Quarantine, although tragic and traumatizing on a global scale, gave me the gift of time. I was able to write and read what I wanted. I could watch whatever I wanted. I could cook whatever I wanted.
I didn’t have to think about running out of time.
This experience taught me about what I truly want to do when I have energy —a resource I rarely had after a long day at work. I realized that this wasn’t just a one-time opportunity, this was what I wanted my life to be. I decided that although quarantine wouldn’t last forever, it didn’t mean I had to diminish my arts, interests, and hobbies.
That’s when I began to romanticize my alone time. That’s when I fell in love with my life. No bull shit. I love spending time with myself as much as I love spending time with my boyfriend. And both are extremely important to me.
Two years ago, I barely tolerated my alone time and wasted most of it trying to find as many friends or potential partners as I could. I didn’t realize how unhealthy this was until recently. Of all of the improvements I’ve made in the past two years, I must admit that this is the one I am most proud of.
6) I commit to finding work that I am passionate about and will positively impact others. I commit to finding a way to help as many people as I can by using the unique skills and knowledge that I have to offer.
The following June, I took several courses on Victim Advocacy and began to look for work at a non-profit organization. The timing was not appropriate then, as I was healing from some fresh trauma wounds. However, I did continue to study, write, and further educate myself.
I began freelance writing toward the beginning of 2021 and even started a blog dedicated to women’s issues, trauma, and recovery. These behaviors have allowed me not only to grow every single day but to track my progress in a way that makes me feel excited to keep pushing forward.
As of November, I was officially hired as a blogger for Say It Loud Space (UK), which is a women-led organization that advocates for women who have been victims of sexual violence and abuse. Once I found their organization, I knew it was the perfect fit for my life.
7) I commit to eating more greens and drinking more water, going to the gym 3 days every single week, going to therapy once every single week, writing something every single week, and reading one new book every single week.
Let’s be real. These commitments were a bit of a reach, so I’ll be kind here.
I’ve definitely incorporated more greens into my diet and prioritized hydration much more than I used to, almost on an obsessive level. I haven’t set foot in a gym for two years, but I have been a lot more consistent with my home workout routine. Maybe not 3 times every week, but certainly most weeks.
For the majority of two years, I had been going to therapy every week. However, there were several times within these two years when my circumstances became complicated and unstable.
I’m unable to pay for therapy at the moment, but I have continued to journal and self-actualize. I acknowledge the fact that seeking out a therapist is definitely a priority when I can afford to add it to my monthly budget.
For the most part, I have written something new every single week, besides a few dry spells here and there. As for that outlandish reading goal — I have read about fifteen books within the last two years, which is more than I’ve probably read since high school.
Even though I only completed about ten percent of my book reading goal, I’ve always been more of an article/essay reader. I have at least read something almost every single day.
2020 was the year I decided to set exceedingly higher standards for myself and the people I allowed into my life. The past two years have been turbulent, to say the least, and it’s been a struggle to give myself permission to celebrate any wins. Among the chaos and unpredictability, there hasn’t seemed to be an appropriate time for that.
So it was very beneficial for me to take time to reflect on these goals. While I was trudging through the mess, I never stopped to recognize that I’m doing an amazing job. The healing, fulfillment, and strength that I desired were within me, and I worked my ass off for two years to bring them to the surface.
Twenty-five was only the beginning. I can feel in my bones that the following two years will see me elevate to even greater heights. If there’s anything these experiences have taught me it is that every day is an opportunity to transform.
This weekend, I sat down, closed my eyes tight, and blew out my pink birthday candles. I wished for serenity, balance, and health. It’s time to manifest the next two years of my journey.
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