24 is my favourite number (I was born on 24/10/1994 at 12:51am) and I’d been looking forward to my 24th birthday for years. For most people, it’s the conventional milestones that seem like achievements but for me, it’s always been 24. It’s a silly superstition that I’ve held onto since childhood, always feeling as though the relevance of the number is auspicious. Even when I try to ignore it, it crops up. A few years ago, we went for a flat viewing and realised that the apartment we liked the look of was Flat 24- this seemed like a reassuring sign. Naturally, I figured that my 24th year would bring an abundance of good omens.
It seemed peachy, initially. It was 2018. There were props everywhere. The party was grandiose and consisted of many merry friends, fab fancy dress outfits and my first ever scavenger hunt for 24 very thoughtful gifts (planted around the house). All seemed well but then about a week later, everything began to disintegrate and here I am, a whole year on, reflecting on the whirlwind that my 24th year gave me.
Sometimes life gives you these obstacles that loom so large, they totally obscure your view of the future. In a lot of ways, I feel like this year has been a cloud in that I’ve been totally engorged in a haze for most of it. The first part involved burying my head in my thesis, then there was The Great Depression (my good friend believes 2019 in its entirety should be renamed this) and the latter part involved taking baby steps to find myself again, to find a new ‘normal’, since the old one has been shed like snake skin.
I’ve had to face a lot of truths- truths that have been systematically buried over the years, truths that have been too uncomfortable to acknowledge in the past, truths that have led to explosive confrontations, the deterioration of dead-weight friendships and a gratitude for all the small things I’ve taken for granted.
I don’t know, truthfully, exactly what I expected to find this year. Security? Prosperity? Independence? Because these concepts seem alien to me right now as I am a ward at my parents’ home, unemployed and still not entirely sure how far away I am from feeling less wobbly out in the real world. Yet despite this, I also feel a weird contentedness for having been on a weird and wacky journey of revelation. The things that once seemed important have been picked apart (I’ve had lots of time) and they just don’t seem that important anymore. I was living a certain way out of stubborn pride and above all else, out of fear. I’ve spent a lot of my life being afraid, making decisions that protect me from having to deal with rejection, visibility and vulnerability. That wasn’t taught to me- it was always there. So now I’m having to un-teach myself and embrace that I am real, I deserve to be seen, I deserve to be loved and I’m entitled to feel exhaustion after years and years of believing otherwise.
I fucking love my life. It’s totally imperfect and I have no idea what I’m doing, where I’m going or who I am. What I do know is that I’m surrounded by lots of beautiful people and that despite never feeling capable, all of the things I thought I wouldn’t survive have been survived. Now I’m just making an active effort to remember that and focus on where I’ve been during the dark times this year because I sure as hell have made progress in the meanwhile.
Thesis? Done. Reconnecting with family after living under a rock for more than half a year? Doing it. Letting my friends know how utterly awesome they are? Every damn day- doing it. Resurrecting the hobbies I’ve shelved for academia and employment over the last ten years? Hell yeah, that’s what this blog is about.
I’m 25 now. That means 30 is looming closer and perhaps that scared me a tad before, but it really doesn’t now.
Another year closer to what? Purpose? Happiness?
Why have my goals always been reserved for future pursuits, with the assumption that I’ll be faster, wiser, stronger or generally more capable then?
Why do I have to wait for something to come when I could just reach for it now?
I don’t have to wait till the next birthday to reflect or want to better myself. I have the option of waking up every day and making it a goal to change my practices, to look at the things that aren’t working for me and find ways to make them work, instead.
I wake up most mornings and take some time to programme my silly brain with new truths, the ones I couldn’t hear before over the noise of my anxiety. I tell myself that we’re all fallible humans and there’s nothing wrong with embracing that. I tell myself that taking care of yourself is not a crime- it’s a necessity and I deserve to dedicate time to maintaining myself, physically and emotionally. I tell myself that it’s easier to remember, and to cling onto, the negative times and the hurts but that it’s equally as important to run through all of the great things that have happened.
Maybe in a weird way, 24 really was a good omen because it got me here, to a place where I can breathe a little easier. The only new game I play is noting 25 things that I’m already grateful to have before I leave bed. It’s a good game- I’m in a good place and that’s before the new day, with all its possibilities, has even truly begun.