So, I’ve aged.
I mentioned to someone last week that 24 feels anti-climactic as an age. They pointed out that, really anything between 21 and 25 is a bit of a non-starter. 21 gets you to that seminal place of “adulthood” in our culture, with the ability to drink and socialize in bars. I think, for many, it’s the beginning of your life as a “young adult,” whatever that definition may be.
25 puts you over the hump of your 20’s. It feels like you jump from “early 20’s” to “late 20’s” in one fell swoop, putting you closer to that even more adult age of “30.” Everything in between 21 to 25 is the gradual climb from here to there.
So, it seems completely apropos that the phrase “on the cusp” has been sticking in my thoughts quite a bit. I have one foot firmly planted in the past and present, only to understand and take away the lessons I’ve learned from it. I finally feel settled enough in myself that the consistent contorting to fit into whatever role someone might need me to play just doesn’t feel as necessary.
That said, I only have a few toes dipped into the future: of what that new-found confidence actually means for the people around me (hopefully good things), of where it’s taking me (no idea) and how to keep and cultivate it (now it sounds like a rosebush. I may not be a great writer). It’s… exhilarating. It’s like coming to the top of a summit: you can finally stop, plant your feet on solid ground, and take in the vista. Still, you have no clue how the fuck you’re going to get down the other side of this mountain, and you’re pretty sure that it’s going to be a bumpy ride and end with a knee scrape or twelve.
Anyway, I normally try and figure out something I want to focus on or do for the year. Last year, I think it was something like “love the challenge.” I think I did pretty well with that, or am at least getting better. Woo!
This year, I think I’m going to go for something a little more unexpected of myself:
“Slow down, shut up, and listen.”
I can already tell you that I am horrible at the first one. I’ve spent that past 23 years challenging myself to go faster, to work harder, and to be better. The concept of purposely taking a step back to “slow my roll” is completely foreign and against my nature. I mean, I’m still in my early/mid 20’s— isn’t the time that I should absolutely be pushing myself?
I think, in some ways, sure. Still, with all the changes and curve-balls (many good) that have occurred in the past few months alone, I think taking a second to let that all process and really try and take them into full effect is an important one. I’d like to actually try and get some real, lasting enjoyment from those curve-balls too.
The next two, “shut up and listen” aren’t directed so much at other people as much as it is to shut up and listen to myself. I try my best to shut up and listen to other people (with varying degrees of success). Normally, however, if I have a plan I barrel on through and I don’t complain about it. Once I’ve set a goal for myself, I can tend to get a little single-minded about it, and not always stop and check if it’s what I should actually be doing.
As usual, the idea of it came from running. After two consecutive calf-pulls (my life is comedy), I had to lower my mileage significantly over the past week. I was so, so tempted to go out and run on a pulled muscle anyway, because I was terrified of not meeting my running goals and somehow losing everything I had worked for.
I realized, though, that perhaps I was missing a more important issue than not running. So I took a week off. I only ran about 10 miles (I’ve been doing 30-45 for the few months). I stretched, and I stopped and did my research. Turns out I haven’t been taking great care of myself as a runner, and the week off gave me a chance to retool some things in my routine. I finally stopped and listened to what my body had been trying to tell me for weeks, and actually learned something too. Success (I ran 38 this week, uninjured)!
So I want to spend the year trying to turn my focus a little more inward. I’m pretty good at ignoring what I might need to take care of everyone around me. I’d like to try and spend 24 keeping up the latter half of that, but also listening and reflecting on what I need and want.
Well, that’s that. Hopefully a year from now, I can report back that, at 25, I stopped and smelled the roses just a little more.