On the 24th of December 2015, I hit a milestone that once seemed like something far off in the distance.
That’s right, folks. I can no longer tick the box that says [20 – 24] you find on random surveys. That bracket is off limits to me now. I am now in my mid-twenties. I’ve officially survived 25 years of life and by God, has it been a crazy ride.
My 25th birthday, much like the ones over the last couple of years, was celebrated without much fanfare. I was treated to a lovely 3 course meal at Bread St. Kitchen by my partner out in London (unfortunately, Gordon Ramsay was not there *sniffs*), then proceeded to lounge around the living room of his family home after changing into my blue teddy bear pajama bottoms, browsing the Interwebz like I usually do on any normal day. I had gone to visit my siblings over in the Midlands just the day before, where my sister made a lovely meal – despite the undercooked chicken – and presented me with a 7 layer chocolate cake. I received personal messages and texts from those nearest and dearest to me sending their good wishes. I went to bed happy and content with where I am and how far I’ve come.
No fuss and no frills. In many ways, it reflects how I’ve chosen to live my life during the course of my early twenties.
I have spent most of my formative years chasing validation. There was a point where it nearly consumed me whole. Years spent analyzing every little action, reaction, and interaction I had with others. I would scrutinize everything and wonder why I always felt so alone, isolated and alienated.
One thing that stood out to me the most was how I was usually the common denominator. The one constant in the wake of every disastrous end to any connection I had with another individual. Was it because I wasn’t beautiful enough? Or smart enough? Or did I just lack a certain je nais se quoi that makes others seem so dynamic and magnetic?
I doubt I will ever learn the answer to this. However, I’ve still learned a great deal over the last 3 years alone.
Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to my loneliness. I take comfort in knowing that my solitude is the one thing I can call my own in the midst of all the chaos the world has to offer. Despite my decade-long struggle with my mental health, I’ve learned to accept that it is a part of who I am – regardless of whether or not people believe that it’s the sad truth of my reality or that I’m merely “faking it” or “self-diagnosing” for sympathy’s sake. I owe them no explanation and quite frankly, I doubt I would even want the latter to play any part in my life.
I’ve learned to value those who are still in my life to the best of my ability, to provide them with as much love as I possibly can and to show my appreciation for them whenever I can. I’ve learned that my self-worth is not measured by the numbers I see on a screen. I’ve learned that while I’m invisible to most, I have managed to magically cobble together a handful of lifelong friends and am loved by my family. I’ve learned to place precedence on taking care of myself rather than always worrying about what others think (although I do stumble every now and again). I’ve learned that despite being told for years on end that I wouldn’t amount to anything, that I am actually capable of whatever I set my mind to.
More importantly, I’ve learned to always be grateful for the things that I do have.
One thing that hasn’t changed is this: At 25, I am still that unpopular, nerdy loner who takes solace in her own little world. I guess the only difference is that I am much more accepting of this reality.
I have tried my best to live an authentic life. I only hope that in my years to come, I will continue to do so.
This is to surviving my 25th year.
Here’s to the long ride ahead.
I once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet, but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken.
But I didn’t really mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted, and then losing it to know what true freedom is.