When this post publishes (hooray scheduling!) I’ll be in New York with my mom. It’s my birthday, which naturally means I’m reflecting on the past year while simultaneously having a crisis about turning another year older and accomplishing things with my life.
I’m 26 today. The first 25 years of my life have been pretty good, honestly. There have been some hardships, of course, but my 25th year felt like I finally started to get into the groove of who I am, who my friends are, my job, my finances, my love life. Well, kind of anyway. I learned some lessons over the last year, and while they’re not exactly original, they are important to me.
It’s not worth pretending to be someone you aren’t. It might get you some social acceptance, or maybe new or different friends, maybe a different or better job. But constantly suppressing your genuine needs and desires and personality traits feels suffocating. And exhausting. There’s enough stress going on in the world right now that you don’t need to add to it. It’s not worth the energy to try and be someone you’re not when it just results in unhappiness.
Being true to yourself isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, it’s a nice sentiment, but sometimes you’ve been pretending for so long that you don’t even really remember what you want, like, or need. It can take a lot of disentangling from your internalized expectations to try and understand your true needs. It takes time, and that’s okay. It’s okay to not know what you want right away.
You are the sum of the people with which you surround yourself. Sometimes it’s easy to tolerate people you don’t entirely mesh with. But if you’re anything like me, bits of their personality start to seep into yours and you become an amalgam of different people. This makes it even more supportive to surround yourself with people you admire.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable. Encouraged, in fact. You don’t always have to be okay. You don’t always have to know what you’re doing. Most people don’t! Even the people who look like they have it all together have moments, days, weeks of doubt. It’s normal.
This year has been good, but honestly, I think my 26th year is going to be full of growth, possibility, understanding, and more kindness to myself.
Cheers to 26.