On December 31, 2013, as I sat down to write a new list of goals I wanted to accomplish in 2014, panic overwhelmed me. 2014 would be the year I turned twenty-five. Twenty-five. A quarter of a century. Officially the mid-twenties. The last milestone before the big 3-0. A giant step closer to old.

Yes, the panic fell upon me in a suffocating rush. I jotted down some goals, but they didn't feel like enough. I was about to be twenty-five, for heaven's sake. Twenty-five! These goals had to be big. And I had to get moving, fast.

I can't really explain the shift that occurred in my brain. But you know, ten years ago, even five years ago, twenty-five felt so far away. As a teen, when I pictured my twenty-five-year-old self, I saw a beautiful, shapely woman with long, dark brown curls. She was married to an equally attractive, amazingly cool guy. They were the parents of an adorable kid (or at least pregnant with one). They lived in a lovely refurbished old house in the historic district outside some really awesome city, where they had great jobs they were good at and truly enjoyed doing.

At twenty-one, I still had this same vision. Then around twenty-three, I began to realize this scenario was very improbable. Most likely impossible. And toward the end of 2013, as this most recent eighteenth of January appeared in sight, I had what some call a quarter-life-crisis.

I am nowhere close to being the woman I was supposed to be at 25!
I've wasted these past few years doing nothing.
I don't know any more now than I knew when I was fifteen.
What the heck am I doing with my life???

In a way, this was helpful. A much-needed wake up call. A reminder that life is short, and I need to get my tail in gear to start doing things I want to do. That's what my blog is all about, isn't it? Life is for living? So I started looking into changing jobs, going back to school, moving to Birmingham. I logged back into eHarmony and revamped my profile. I started taking Biotin supplements to make my pixie grow out faster.

My birthday came and went. I officially am twenty-five now. And while the day itself was a happy one, and I was grateful to celebrate another year of life, I was saddened to realize that at twenty-five, I remain about as lost and confused as ever. I'm almost as clueless and directionless as I was ten years ago at fifteen. I am just very unhappy with who I am. 

Yeah, there's the unfinished bachelor's degree and the singleness and the mediocre job, but it goes deeper than that. See, that beautiful, long-haired wife and mom version of me from the vision? Her spirit is different, too. She is confident and poised. At peace. She smiles widely, laughs freely, and loves openly. She is radiant with joy.   

I am far from that person. I get on my own nerves. I continually find myself wallowing in self-pity. I am jealous of the progress of others. I have too much residual bitterness over things long gone.

In the afternoons, I come home from work so irritated and so angry at the stupid people I encounter, I want to scream, to punch something, to put on my pajamas and never go outside again. I don't have any real friends here because I am too weird and different from the typical deer huntin', camo-and-boot-wearin', tanning-bed-lovin', Bud-Light-drinkin', Duck Dynasty watchin' Alabamian. I am never free to be me around other people here. I go through my days being as polite and friendly as I can be without ever opening up enough to let them see the weirdo-vegetarian-hippie-anglophile I am inside. And if a glimpse of my real self accidentally does slip out, I immediately apologize to the unfortunate witness after I observe their confused, judgmental expression. 

Okay, I'm sure that all sounds very stupid and dramatic, but sadly, that's who I am right now. I'm not happy with it. I want to change. So after heavy introspection, I created this list of twenty-five resolutions for my future. These goals are not like my usual ones. They aren't the simple do-it-and-check-it-off type of thing. These are changes to make, attitudes to transform, habits to break. The kinds of resolutions that will take the next twenty-five years to master.

(If a lot of these sound a little angry, a little bitter, that's because they are. I'm frustrated by all of this. I'm tired of my negative attitude and self-loathing thoughts. I'm sick of burying who I am just to prevent conflict. I want to be a more confident, open person with a peaceful heart and a free mind.)  

1. Stop apologizing for being weird and different. Embrace it. Be confident in who you are. Other people don't apologize for being idiots. 
2. Stop apologizing for not eating meat. Or for saying no to cake and doughnuts and other fatty junk people offer you (and judge you when you turn it down). This is your life. This is your body, and you decide what goes into it. If other people want to eat poison and dead animals, let them. But you don't have to, and you should never apologize for making wise choices.
3. Stop apologizing for being fair-skinned! White people don't tell black people get their skin lightened, and they have no right to insist upon you altering your natural Scottish skin tone either. Own it, love it, don't change it, and don't take nonsense from anybody about it.
4. Stop saying 'yes' to things you don't want to do. 
5. Stop saying 'no' to things you secretly want to do but are too scared/embarrassed/  intimidated. 
6. Never, in attempt to make friends, pretend to care about the stupid things other people talk about all the time. If you feel differently, don't be rude or start an argument, but do not agree with them. No one hesitates to openly judge and/or attack your alternative tastes and opinions. 
7. Never lower your standards and settle for someone because you're tired of being alone, even if everyone encourages you to do so.  
8. Never stop setting goals for yourself and working hard to achieve them. 
9. Never be afraid to turn up the music in your car and sing along as loudly as you can. 
10. Never be cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in. 
11. Explore as many new places as possible. Remember there is so much more in this world than this tiny little speck of Alabama. Adventure is out there. Go find it. Just go. 
12. Spend more time with nature. Walk beneath the trees. Sit in the green. The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. 
13. Smile more. 
14. Laugh and be silly whenever possible. Don't worry about embarrassing yourself. Just have fun. 
15. Find three things to be thankful for each day. 
16. Get up early enough in the morning to do a few minutes of yoga, read the Bible, and pray before the day begins. 
17. Journal more. Don't keep your thoughts and feelings inside just because you have no one to tell them to. Constant repression will lead to disaster. Release it with a pen and paper. 
18. Read more books. If you really want to be a writer, reading is the best teacher. So study the craft. And remember, reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are. 
19. Make time for tea. It really does have magical soothing powers.  
20. Wear what you like, what you feel comfortable in, what makes you feel like you. 
21. Make and create as much as you can. 
22. Don't let the muggles get you down. 
23. Always remember, cool isn't cool. 
24. Be love. If you need love, give yourself and be love. Breathe it out, create love. See how things can turn. 
25. Do what you love. Do what excites you. Do the things that make your eyes sparkle when you talk about them. Don't just talk about doing, think about doing, or dream about doing. Do.


Lacey said...

Oh, I loooooooooooove this. Yes, it was dramatic. But it was REAL! I can't tell you how much of a mental relief it was for me to read this and be able to relate to a blogger as a real human being. I feel/do a lot of these things, too. And I want to change my behaviors as well. I know we've talked about them! I hope you can stay inspired and do these things, you are the only one in your own way! I totally believe in you and know you can make these changes and have such an amazing and fulfilling life.

Be fearless!

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for your kind, thoughtful response, Lacey! I almost regretted posting this, even though the stuff I listed is how I actually feel. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your reaction. To being fearless!