Well, here we are. It’s time for the regularly scheduled programming that happens every year as the 23rd of August rolls around. I’m currently over here at my computer, it’s 11:23AM, I’m still in my pajamas and for the past five days I have been in a deep state of self reflection re: the ups and downs that occurred over the past year.
There’s really no poetic way of putting it. 25 for me was a mother fucking doozy.
I got pregnant. I lost a job. I went through my first breakup. I watched a family member almost die because of addiction. My car was keyed while I was at work. Months later it was sideswiped while parked on the street, not once, but twice. I was literally driving around town with a front bumper held up by duct tape. After shelling out ~2k that I didn’t have for repairs, I got in a car accident myself and effectively totaled it. I had a surgical abortion that failed twice before it worked. I was hospitalized for mental health reasons. I lived through a global pandemic. And I probably let my family, friends, and self down more times than I can count.
But I’m still here. Still here to turn 26. And I guess that’s something.
I recently found a podcast called Straight Up, hosted by Trent Shelton and owned by the Hollis Company, AKA Rachel Hollis author of Girl Wash Your Face. Trent Shelton is an ex NFL player, self-proclaimed introvert and motivational speaker who talks about life and gives it to us straight.
In one of his episodes he says life has nothing to do with the things that happen to you and everything to do with the way you respond to the things that happen to you. Hearing him say that hit different. It hit me like a brick wall, actually.
He’s right. It is a whole lot easier to cover your eyes, roll over and play victim when life gets hard than it is to show up and deal with your problems. Everyone’s got trauma. Everyone’s got baggage. The difference is in what we do with it.
We are not a victim of our circumstances but a product of our efforts.
The way I see it, there are two ways to meet life’s challenges; fear them and run, or face them and rise.
I’ve done both, but probably more times than not, I’ve feared everything, ran, and displaced the blame for why my whole life seemed to be unraveling all at once.
In 25, I got real good at self sabotage. So much so that my therapist once referred to the relationship I’d developed with myself as almost masochistic. PLEASE NOTE: she was not referring to the type of masochism that derives sexual gratification from pain and humiliation.
She clarified, “I don’t mean to suggest you need a red room of pain. But you’ve developed a tendency of being incredibly hard on yourself. Of being self-punishing.” (Yes, my therapist made a 50 Shades of Grey reference in the middle of one of our sessions. And yes, my therapist is one of the most badass women I know).
She was not using it in the general sense of the term. She was trying to illustrate how my past trauma had led me to develop a relationship with myself, where I’d unconsciously put myself through pain and heartbreak, because deep down I no longer believed that I deserved any better. I was continuing to choose things that I knew weren’t good for me. I kept myself in painful situations because I was convinced that at least feeling pain was better than feeling nothing at all.
Nice, add another character deficit to the arsenal.
I mean really? Creating new pain to numb out the old pain? Brilliant. Really, brilliant.
Anyhow, I am learning. I am adapting. I am getting there.
I am getting out of my own way.
So maybe this past year was like a rite of passage. The year that I make a million mistakes and come away a stronger, wiser, more compassionate version of myself.
25 was excruciating for a lot of reasons. Some in my control, some out of my control. But perhaps I was due for a nice kick in the butt, no way around it wake up call. 25 was like a post-puberty growth spurt. The only away out was through, and no amount of Ibuprofen would take away the pain I had to go through before I’d be grown.
Honestly, I am kind of surprised that I am still here to tell the tale of 25. Maybe that sounds dramatic. I have it really good compared to a whole lot of people. But there were definitely moments in this past year when I’d wished I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale of my quarter life chaos.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. This is not meant to be a sob story nor a “woe is me” cry for help. In fact, a lot of this past year was quite good. There’s really no point in spending any time in a state of regret, guilt or wishing things had gone different. And despite 25’s series of one unfortunate event after another, there were also many moments that were full of joy and excitement.
There were a handful of times when I surprised myself, in a good way.
I fell in love, and let someone get close enough to really truly know me for the first time. I practiced letting my guard down. I saved a lot of money. I successfully ran my first half marathon when literally everything that could have possibly gone wrong leading up to the race, had. I got a new nephew and a new niece. I made new friends that will last a lifetime and met new people that changed my trajectory. I reconnected with old friends who I’d missed dearly. I traveled. I moved. I ventured far out beyond my comfort zone and took risks that would’ve normally scared me shitless. And I realized a whole lot about who I am and what I am capable of in this life.
So here’s to hoping 26 is slightly less of a shit show than 25 shook out to be. And here’s to owning it all, the good, the bad, the ugly.
Thanks for the lessons 25, on to the next one.
Edit: turns out I’ll be getting a puppy at the start of 26!…so what could POSSIBLY go wrong!? (ha-ha)