Today, I'm 21 years old.
I've never been one for year resolutions (I don't have the attention span for them), but I've always been adamant about growing myself and I live by this simple idea:
I am a huge believer in designing the life you want to live and then creating it.
I Am Her Tribe said it beautifully:
"Ditch the resolutions.To resolve means to find a solution to a problem.
You are not a problem.
The way you showed up for your life the past year was necessary for your growth.
Now is a time to reflect. To learn.
To create an intention, a positive call to shift,
a spark of magic and manifestation rooted in self-love and backed with action."
This summer I decided to start doing this thing where, every season, I make a list of things that "I have always wanted to do" (design the life I wanted to live) and then do them within that same season (and create it). I'm naturally an anxious, procrastinating mess of an artist -- so I knew that I needed a short time frame (like 4 months) to actually fabricate my list into reality. Between new adventures, literary goals, musical goals and life milestones -- my seasonal lists include healthy, life-giving, Elisabeth-growing things to do. You can check out my summer list and recap here.
My Autumn List (September to December) was as follows:
Life after traditional undergrad college (even for this girl who is living in her college town and working on her masters online) is weird. In her article "23 Reminders That Every 23-Year-Old Needs to Hear Right Now", Heidi Priebe describes it as, "The years following college aren't kind to us... Nobody likes you when you're 23, including your own life." Every ten seconds I'm singing, "so no one told you life was gonna be this way." I grew up with FRIENDS on television (even when I was too young to be allowed to watch it). When I was younger I used to like the show because I thought it was funny; now I think I watch the all-too-relatable sit-com because well, sometimes in life, if you don't laugh, you cry. But even in the incredible awkwardness, good things somehow still keep growing, and I am learning:
I am whole. Even though I feel like there are holes. Even though I feel like certain parts of me aren't here yet. Even though there's still so much unknown to me. I am whole.
An intricate being of spirit, body, mind and heart.
There is this galaxy inside of me, unable to be fully defined. It is continuously growing and changing and moving -- but not on a linear progression. I am on my own rate and my own journey. My experiences are mine to label and no body else's. Nothing needs to be justified or summarized (it can't be). It just is. And that is wonderfully, miraculously enough.
You are wonderfully, miraculously enough. Because you just are. Because your heart is beating, you need no justification for who you are.
That is enough reason for me to love myself in my wholeness, to nurture all aspects of who I am -- physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. "What do I need right now?" I've gotten in the habit of asking.
I realized something a few months back: I'm stuck with myself forever. (Obviously, Elisabeth. No, seriously, think about it.) It's me and me always. No matter whom I room with, whom my friends are, whom I date, whatever kids I have, whom passes away -- I'll still know me. I can't run away from myself, hide from myself, break up with myself, or ignore my calls like everyone else in this world can. Loving others is important. Loving others is everything. But how can we do that without loving the one human with whom we are truly always engaged?
So I've started thinking on who I am from a different perspective. How do I want to be remembered? Who (not what) do I want to be when I "grow up"?
Who do I want to be regardless of circumstance?
I came up with words like generous, creative, fearless, gracious, always fighting for good in this world on behalf of myself and others. Even when circumstances are ugly or embarrassing or painful -- that's the kind of woman I want to be. This is who I want to be when "your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A." or when "it's like you're always stuck in second gear" and especially when "it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year."
And the great thing is, that since these characteristics are regardless of circumstance, I can start working on these things now. I don't need to wait for something to happen that is out of my control. I don't grow on a linear progression -- no human does -- so I'll fail at these things sometimes. But I must remember...
Even when it looks as if nothing is happening, but truly the most foundational part of who I am is being rooted underground before I start growing in a way most deem beautiful. But this is where the beauty is birthed. Under the ground, where no one sees. Where it is dark and cold. Where it's awkward and sometimes lonely and there's so much unseen and unknown. This is where life comes from. This is where life begins.
At the beginning of 2015, I had the word "fight" pressed against my heart. In one of the easiest times of my life, I had no idea why the word had such a tug on my heart. I thought maybe it was because I was supposed to fight to avoid becoming complacent. Maybe to fight to stay on fire, fight for the helpless or fight for -- gosh, I could guess at answers that sound good all day but I really didn't know. But now I know (and I'm sure you do too if you follow me on Instagram, as I say it all the time). 2015 didn't stay easy. And I had to teach myself that, as dear Samwise reminds us, "there is some good in this world, and it is worth fighting for." This has become the truth that has kept me walking, has kept me truly alive, and has kept me thoroughly loving and believing in and hopeful about life -- for me and for you. No matter how dark, how bleak, how hard life seems, there is still some good in this world. And it is worth fighting for. It's worth fighting for. It's worth fighting for. It's worth fighting for.
The biggest thing I have learned at 21 is this: just because your life doesn't look the way you anticipate doesn't mean that it is bad. I want to love life, not because it is happy or easy or bright -- because it is not always so. I want to love life even though it is full of good and bad, kindness and selfishness, magic and terror, battles victorious and lost. I want to love life because life is our one human experience. This is our one human experience.
Welcome to the world. Beautiful and horrible things will happen here.
But, even if I don't like it, I am going to love every freakin' moment of it.