FROM THE ARCHIVES: The End of 23
We've published hundreds of stories from 100+ writers in the last three years, so we're highlighting some of these timeless posts in our new From the Archives series. Enjoy!
“Well I’m coming to the end of 23 she said, is that alright?”
And so goes a line from a song from my most favorite band (that I never talk about) The 1975, and I just so happen to be on a Southwest flight bound to Los Angeles right now because I just so happen to be seeing them tonight and I’M GOING TO DANCE MY ARMS AND LEGS AND FACE OFF. (Finishing up this piece post-concert, I can confirm that I did, in fact, dance my arms and legs and face completely off.)
It also just so happens to be my birthday weekend. On Sunday, I bid adieu to year 23 and enter into my 24th year (and yet I still am mistaken for a 12-year-old by airport security, but that’s another qualm for another post).
Have you ever been alone in a parking garage at night, just you and that spooky generator noise? I feel like 23 has been a bit like wandering by myself in a kind of lonely and disorienting and grey parking garage. Not all of it, mind you. There’s been lots of beauty too—travels and concerts and mochas and good moments with good people. But mostly a lot of wandering and wondering where the hell my car is so I can get out of this place.
Twenty-three has been the hardest year of my life, straight up. And I say that with zero melodrama and with the common sense that there will be years ahead that are worse and years ahead that are better. I know many of you can relate. Maybe this is just our early twenties, or maybe this is just life—this pendulum swinging between the dark and light, wandering and arriving, wondering and knowing, grief and joy.
My birthday last year was on a Friday. My boss let me off early because he has the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the sun was out. Fall had actually arrived, unlike this year’s 80-degree forecast for the weekend (OCTOBER 2016 YOU MERCILESS TEASE, YOU). The air was cool, and my roommate slash best friend had met me to walk a trail through changing leaves.
We talked about life and I tried not to cry.
Because 23 broke my heart. This past year was a holy humbling, one that ripped from my hands the blueprint of what I thought 23 should be—the independent young adult with the posh music business job and the stable relationship and the abundant friendships who needs help from no one—and shredded it in an industrial-sized shredder.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Reality, in fact, is always something you could not have guessed.”
I certainly could not have guessed 23: the road trips and plane tickets and sad airport departures and career changes and heart changes and humble requests for help and answered prayers that borderline miraculous. I could not have guessed that by having my plans for who I thought I should be so violently taken from me, I’d become more of an authentic me—a girl who can’t get enough of sad British alt bands and trips on the calendar and Frothy Monkey mochas and watching for avalanches aside New Zealand cliffs.
I suppose this is what growing up is—a ridding of the pretenses of who you think you should be so you can stop thinking about yourself altogether and simply be who you already are.
And there's something beautifully hopeful about that.
So I’m coming to the end of 23 today, and it’s alright.
[This post was originally published October 15, 2016.]
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