I turned 23 yesterday. It has been challenging for me to accept that and to let go of 22 because 22 was a pretty amazing year. In the past year so much has happened that led to such a huge progression of who I am as a person. I graduated from college which was the end of a 16 ½ year long journey through education and that in itself opens up a door to becoming someone new. When your life revolves around school for so long and all of the sudden it’s over, you have all of this time and all of these resources that are open to you that never have been before. It’s when you get to decide all on your own and turn away from the pressure of what you’re “supposed” to do next and do whatever you want.
Reflecting back on the past year is almost overwhelming because of how much has happened. I started off 22 in a serious relationship, we had plans to take the next step within that and if I had stayed on that path I would just be moving out of Norfolk and we would have been looking for an apartment together. I thought that at this time I would be committing to being with one person for the rest of my life…and now that sounds like the most insane concept I’ve ever heard. I am still good friends with him and I still care very much about his happiness but in the past year I had to figure out that I wasn’t contributing to that at all and I was really just trying to stick to a plan or not break any promises. I was fully prepared to just live the rest of my life that way. Until I went to St. John with my family in July.
July was a turning point of 22. I met someone that changed my life very significantly, and not in a totally positive way, but in a way that I am so thankful for because it brought me here. I learned from him the possibility of picking a place on a map, picking up your life and starting it over. After I thought, “I want to do that too”, I told my family and my mom’s friend that I was going to move to St. John. I said it out loud for the first time not even believing myself and my mom’s friend laughed and said “No you’re not.” That was all I needed.
My last semester of college was spent at a full-time unpaid internship, working through a breakup, and planning a move 2,000 miles away. Some of my closest friends still didn’t believe I would do it. I thank God for that doubt because without it I don’t think I would be here. On the night before I left, one of my best friends told me he hadn’t even processed the fact that I was moving because he didn’t really think I would go. I find a lot of strength and pride in that, not anger or annoyance that anyone doubted me because moving to an island is a hard thing to do and I totally understand that doubt. That doubt is what fueled me to get through my last semester and to make all of my plans, to pack up and leave home, and to get through the period of adjustment after I arrived.
I spent the last 4 ½ months of 22 building a new life on an island. I have made extraordinary friends that have turned into a family. I have seen some of the most beautiful things a person can see in their lifetime. I have gone on adventures and I have tried new things. I have had my heart broken and have fallen into a mess of sweat and tears alone in my rock hard bed, but I’ve had my roommate come in and lay with me, rub my back, listen to me and tell me that everything will be ok. And everything always is ok, because I have an amazing and very happy life. In my year of 22 there have been days that I’ve questioned every decision I’ve ever made, there have been days that if there were an airplane in front of me I would have gotten on and flown home and not looked back. I have also had days that I’ve jumped into the ocean, stood up and looked around and just started crying at how surreal and amazing this experience has been.
22 was full of very low lows and very high highs. Overall, this past year has brought me such significant growth and happiness that I’m a little scared to let it go, but very hopeful and determined to keep exploring, keep growing, keep loving, and keep getting better. 22 has made me better and I am so proud of how far I have come. I will remind myself that I am not really letting go of 22 but I am bringing the very best parts and all of the lessons with me into 23 to make it even better. I am deeply at peace with my life, and my heart, mind, and soul are fulfilled. Thank you so very much for the words of encouragement, the shoulders I have leaned on, the listening ears, the chatty happy hours, the well wishes and safe travels, the congratulations and the happy birthdays. All of those things from all of the amazing people in my life are what has gotten me to this place of peace and joy. I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you that have shown interest in following my journey. You have helped make 22 remarkable. Cheers to 23, y’all!