A lesson in turning 23.

11.11.2014


I turned a year older two Tuesdays ago, on an unseasonably warm 28th of October. To celebrate, friends and family joined together at my parents' downtown apartment for a lovely dinner, courtesy of my mother, and two (yes, two) homemade desserts. It was all so nice. Relaxing and fun, just the way I like it.

I blew out my candles with fragments of a wish floating fresh on my mind, and I let it go fleetingly, hoping for the best. Because whether you believe in the power of a birthday tradition or not, I'm convinced these things can't be for nothing.

But after all that, when the sun finally dawned on the 29th, I felt no different than I had the day before. Or the day before that. And, honestly, who would? Twenty-two is no different than twenty-three. Individually, they're all just numbers. Insignificant milestones of little consequence. Until one day you wake up in a foreign place, no longer within the comfortable confines of your childhood home, and realize you're somewhat more alone than you were the year before. Wondering how exactly life and time collided to bring you here. It's both liberating and terrifying, a beautiful becoming.

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In the wee hours before work, I sometimes catch just enough time to sit down with my coffee, a journal, and the endlessness of my thoughts—sans computer, phone, or television. (How few and far between these quiet moments are.) Goals, dreams, expectations, plans, and hopes for the future make up the gist of my morning musings. I rarely dwell on my life as it is in that moment. Instead, my thoughts drift to where I'm going, or where I would like to go.

And it's becoming clear to me now, my fault of faults. The ungrateful habit of wanting what I don't have, simply because someone else does.

It seems our lives are never the perfect amount of that one thing we find so appealing in another's. But perhaps those components of a life wouldn't be so appealing in the first place if they weren't also completely out of our reach. It's a disheartening cycle, to say the least.

The girl who resides in Brooklyn offers a glimpse into my unreachable. Single, twenty-something, trained-actress-turned-writer. A native Texan and avid consumer of whole milk lattes. Not all unlike me, actually. She blogs about her struggles with body image, her (mis)fortunes with men, and the "all-important-life-lessons" that only firsthand experience can provide. Extraordinarily talented and unaware of her beauty.

I read her thoughts with a heavy heart, feeling (I imagine) similarly to the way she did when she wrote them. And I swim in it. I delve in her beautiful words, try to grasp what her day-to-day is like. Simple, romantic, unpredictable. Imperfect and even insufferable at times, but in the most poetic way. Appealing from the outside looking in.

And so I think, let's move to New York. Naturally.

It's the only way to quell my restless curiosity. Oh, the things I could write about! The autumns I could photograph... The coffee shops I could frequent! The companies I could work for. Limitless possibilities. That's the dream, isn't it?

...Isn't it?

Alas, I'm convinced my tendency to idealize situations, people, and places is my biggest curse. Soaring expectations can often lead to disappointment, this is true, but the emotional high of a new adventure gets the best of me anyway. Dreams becomes obsessions, fantasies overwhelm any sensible notion in my head reminding me that regardless of where I am, the lights eventually dim. The luster fades, and reality sets in all too fast. 

Could New York possibly quench my thirst for independence and inspiration? Would contentment greet me there? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps I'll never know. But that's not really the point.

The point is, at 23 years old, I'm happier than I've ever been. Living alone in my cozy Houston apartment, working to pay my own way, surrounded by people I love. It may have taken almost two and a half decades, but I'm slowly figuring out that this little life of mine is truly what dreams are made of. (Cue Hilary Duff.)

When I blew out my birthday candles two weeks ago, I didn't wish for a move to New York or a fancy new job or anything life changing at all. My wish this time around was tied to hopes of a simpler nature: a blessed 24th year, good health, fulfillment in the small things. Because life—no matter where it happens—is bound to be romantic, unpredictable, imperfect, and even insufferable.

But poetic? Well, that's certainly up to us.

|| photo of the Houston skyline by Scott Blasik ||

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