Turning 25: Looking Back on a Life-Changing Year
I’ve always been a bit of a sentimentalist when it comes to birthdays, but I didn't think too much about turning 25 just a little over a week ago. At least I didn't think about it until my boyfriend stumbled across a photo of me yesterday sporting long, wavy, un-brushed hair - atypical of the 25-year-old Laura he's come to know. He asked me to tell him everything that's happened to me since that photo was taken, and I began recalling all the lifetimes that have passed since that bed-headed photo of me was snapped...only 1.5 years ago. I told him everything I could drudge up from when I was living somewhere else in a very different time, never imagining I would ever be living here in this one. And yeah...that got me thinking.
I recalled my all-too-recent 23rd year, the year in question from when the wavy-haired photo was taken. I was riding high on the wave of travel and the sense of being a nomad that often marks one’s early twenties and couldn’t find it within me to understand why anyone or their mother would ever go out into the real world and get a “job.” Why ever would I get one of those things if I could just live penny to penny and travel the world for the rest of my life? That was all there was to it, right? What more could anyone want in order to be happy?
It was soon after that when I needed to find more pennies as mine had run out, and I guess you could say I sort of started to get why people don't live their entire lives on airplanes without getting a job. It sounded sort of easy to me, the idea of taking jobs here and there, using them only to support my air-travel. But life as most of us know it is far more complicated than that. I was ultimately asked to make that decision I had so openly judged so many adults for doing: to get a real full-time job. Life changed in spite of my best and most strident efforts to keep it exactly the way it was before: free, easy, all made by my own choices. It was time to figure out how to make the next pennies, and all roads pointed to the rather un-nomadic life I find myself living today in Houston, Texas.
People don’t really talk about the decisions we face being young 20 somethings - at least you can't hear them when you're still in college and you can't hear the voices of anyone telling you what life is like on the other side because your convictions are far louder than the rest of it. They don’t talk about the struggles we have with making life choices and how everything feels like a huge step in the direction of forever that we’ll never be able to reverse if we make the wrong one. We are told by so many who have made choices they regret to simply not make their regrettable choices, without those people ever giving any consideration to why they might have made their regrettable choices in the first place: because they had to.
I’d never felt more like I was selling my soul when I cut all of my hair off and decided to drop my yoga pants in favor of business casual, but I made a decision that I would always commit to finding what nurtured me and sustained my “free-spirit” of a self no matter how much Ann Taylor LOFT apparel I was adorning myself with.
And now, where am I? I asked myself as I concluded telling my tales of uprooting and moving and choosing between jobs and being chosen for one. I suddenly recalled a conversation I had in a coffee shop with my friend Sandy only 5 or 6 months ago, sitting on a couch beside her expressing my discontentment at the working girl life I now lead versus the “bohemian” life that once felt so right for me. She smiled a big smile as I vented, looked at me and said:
“Laura, I think you’re going to get to have both.”
Since then I decided to start this blog, giving myself a place where I can still be a J.K. Rowling wannabe, sitting in my apartment in Houston, TX as opposed to the famous Edinburgh coffee shop where Harry Potter was written, but still writing nonetheless. I have carved out time in each week I’m given to give to myself in some way that brings forth the woman I am in spite of whatever circumstances I find myself on any given day.
Because the truth is, in this “real world” that I’m living in, I’m going to have to be in places that I don’t always want to be in, sometimes doing things I’d rather not be doing. I might not always be able to simply spend the remaining contents of my checking account on a life-changing one-way ticket to London (boy, was that fun though…) but luckily for me, I don’t have to jump across the Atlantic every time I’m looking for myself. Myself, luckily for me, has always been right here.