I was once told that the best thing I could ever do is to just enjoy each phase of my life. To relish every chapter. It’s great advice that I’m just…not so great at keeping. A lot of my life has been spent forward-thinking stuck in a lot of phases I just couldn’t wait to be done with.
Like all those awkward tween years where I didn’t fit in the girls clothes but I couldn’t shop in the women’s department so I just wound up in awkward “capri” length overalls. Or the high school years where I felt too cool to be bothered and yet not even close to cool enough to sit dead-center on the senior bench. And the college years where I just wanted done, I wanted out, I wanted to never look at a textbook again, please and thank you. Also, just the entirety of ages 15-23 where I was waiting to be asked out on a second date already, okay?!
But tomorrow I’m flying home and in less than three days my so-called single adulthood will be over and done with forever and always. Because, guys, I’m getting married this weekend.
This is obviously exciting and you will definitely be hearing more about that (lol duh). But for the last five months, I’ve been doing nothing but think about this wedding and marriage, always planning ahead, ahead, ahead. But now that it’s here–and obviously, again, I’m stoked–it’s also just a little bit bittersweet.
Saturday, for better or for worse (marriage pun!), marks the end of one of those eras I was told to cherish. So today I want to wax nostalgic. Because of all the times in all the years of all my life, this has been my absolute favorite.
For specificity’s sake, you should know I’m talking about the last almost-four years of my life. After college, away from home, where I set out on my own to figure ish out on my terms. The ones where I had to make all sorts of life-altering choices and decisions to really lay the groundwork for the future I’m about to start come Saturday.
Because if there was ever a time I finally heeded that old advice and just relished life, it’s been this phase.
Maybe it’s all in my head, but I think the past few years was my time–to find myself, make myself, be myself. But what exactly was so great about these last few years?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
In the last few years, I learned that dreams can change. Priorities can change. Thoughts and ideas and opinions can change. And that’s okay because I also realized that change is a good thing. And even though the grass isn’t always greener, sometimes it’s better to find out the hard way. Like Miley Cyrus said, it’s the climb.
I learned to relax. You know, enjoy the moments. I wasn’t so set on completing tasks and goals and phases of life because I finally embraced the unknowable, the uncontrollable to let things happen–and let life surprise me. Cuz it’s pretty good at doing that.
I valued my strengths and acknowledged my weaknesses, but I stopped hiding behind the label of being an introvert, being quiet, being shy. Because I can be all those things, but I’m also so much more.
I became more outgoing, more comfortable in my own skin, more willing to not just laugh at myself but to stand up for myself, be proud of myself, and care about myself.
I learned to let everyone else in. To embrace different personalities and tastes and let them each color my life. Because no matter age or interests or opinions, people are just people and we’re just not all that different when it comes down to it. Plus, the more the merrier.
I tried more things–for the first time or again–because why should I be stuck with the same tendencies and favorites I had as a teenager? Maybe I do like rollercoasters (yes) and even karaoke (hells yes). And who’s to say I wouldn’t like oxtail soup (it almost killed me) or squid ink pasta (not bad) or even fish heart (worst mistake of my life)?
I figured out how to eat better. Treat my body well. I discovered how strong I could be. And how that directly impacts my mental health.
I learned to listen to my body. To take breaks when I need them. To not be ashamed that I need them. To take the time to take care of me–to slow down, manage my responsibilities, treat myself.
I figured out how to care about financial planning without stressing about penny pinching. Money is just money and it shouldn’t be the final factor in any decision. Because life is too short to not go to the 1989 tour twice. Or spend $50 on that limitless steak once in awhile.
I learned to go with the flow, to let life happen. I embraced opportunities to embarrass myself or put myself out there. Because I learned that life is short and if you believe things change then it means opportunities won’t always be there so why not just go for it then and there.
I realized desirability is so much more than a dress size or your color of lipstick. I felt more beautiful as I made more choices and took more action directly related to what I wanted.
I felt myself blossom because I let go of the measuring stick we’ve all been trained to carry. I didn’t want to worry about who was the prettiest/funniest/charmingest person in the room. I wanted to put myself out there and see what happened. And it was embarrassing and awkward and sometimes I went home hating myself. But usually I was just really proud that I’d laughed more, smiled more, flirted more, done more.
Tbh, I embraced my inner boss a$$ b*tch.
I learned not to be embarrassed that I can get shy, that I don’t always like parties, that I’m not always the best in crowds. But I tried. And I pushed myself. And I realized life will always multiply your efforts.
I learned how to be alone. To like the company instead of resenting the solitude.
And I learned that goodbyes hurt, but they don’t have to be the end. And endings come, but it doesn’t mean it’s over. Because some things are just meant last forever.
Like friends. Memories. Life lessons. And that thirst for a life wholly lived. So, yes, it’s the end of an era. But if my penchant for always wanting to see what happens next has shown me anything, it’s that life only gets better and better.
So here’s to Saturday–the next era, a brave new world, a dazzling place I never knew. But more than that, here’s to the last few years of growing up and getting smart and whatever other magic #adulting has done for me. Because I couldn’t be more grateful. And, frankly, it’s made me more than ready.
On to the next.