As I slowly close out my twenties, I can’t help but get thoughtful. I analyze the last ten years of my life and think about two things, one, how quick it all went, and two, what I’ve learned in the last decade.
I still remember the day I turned 21. I had recently moved to FL that year and barely had any friends. I spent my day working and then afterwards went out for a few drinks with my middle aged co-workers (who at this point were like family away from home) and my boyfriend at the time who, unbeknownst to me, was getting ready to leave me in less than three months. My birthday wasn’t anything crazy. Now looking back on it I feel like it was a perfect representation of how my twenties would go. I had fun, but was it a roaring good time? Neh. I’ve always heard amazing stories of kids turning 21 and mine was nowhere near as exciting. At the time, I was a little bummed out about it. I had no crazy stories to tell, nothing to truly brag about. Now looking back on it I think to myself, “You moved to a completely different state, alone, and succeeded that year. Not many people do that. You did.” But in a young mind that doesn’t count. What counts is the amount of shenanigans one can get into and live through in order to get to tell the story later. Well, at least I’d always have my 25th birthday! Right?…
My early twenties was FULL of mature bad decision making. Up until you hit your twenties, you are young and immature. You know nothing about life and therefore you constantly make bad choices, not truly knowing that you are because foresight is almost non-existent. Yet while I was growing up, I had always been told how mature I was for my age, ever since I was a little rugrat. I had to grow up quite quick once my parents divorced and so that left me with hardly a fun childhood. I was like a mini parent, always making sure to help my mom out with my little sister, even on the days I really didn’t want to. So here I am now, a true young adult, living in a state far far away from home. I was over the top responsible when it came to working, paying bills, saving money, going to school, ect. and although at the time I thought I was making great choices (because mature people always make good choices…) I was also making really really stupid ones. By the time I was 23 I had made just a handful of friends my age and began going crazy. I was finally doing things that any average kid my age was doing. It was as if I was making up for all the fun time lost. I began partying like no other. It seemed like I was finally doing what kids my age had been doing since high school. I began drinking a lot and experimenting with other “fun” substances and throughout the cloud and haze I began associating with people that weren’t really the best influences. My picks of boyfriends were even worse and although I had always been a heavy thinker, making sure I was always 5 steps ahead of the game, I got sucked into the world of living for the moment, even if that moment wasn’t one I truly wanted to be apart of. It had taken me a long time of living alone and wanting friends that got me to that place. Once I had made those friends, actual connections with people, I would do almost anything to keep them from going astray.
My early twenties were full of moments in which at the time I thought I was doing the right things, the right things for me anyways. Even though I felt like I was doing the best I could, my delivery (or lack there of) on certain matters just wasn’t great. This is why I say that this period of my life was full of “mature” bad decision making. My mentality was if no one liked what I was doing or how I was doing it, Bye Bye Felicia, out of my life you were cut out, for good. Did it have to go to that extreme? No. Absolutely not. But at the time, I felt like I was living my life and how dare you have an opinion on it. In retrospect I see how stupid and frankly, immature that was. People are always going to have their opinion, and they’re entitled to it. All I should have done was either ignore it or talk it out. Instead, I was trying to stubbornly stand my ground. By doing that I cut out many people from my life that to this very day I still genuinely think about.
The year of my 25th birthday was the year I hit my quarter life crisis. I was tired of living in this small town of FL where nothing ever happened unless it was trouble that would find you, even if you weren’t looking for it. I had realized that I no longer wanted to be here and I had saved enough money to take a venture to any place I had truly wanted. Since a child I had always dreamed about California. It was never in regards to moving out there to become famous or anything of that nature, but I had simply always been drawn to it. The diversity of people and things to do, combined with the mountains and the yearn to want to climb them all, it called to me. That spring I took off. My sister and I had packed our cars and off we went to see what Cali would offer us.
What it offered us was slap of reality, with a dose of breaking us down, and a lesson on humility. It took all but a year for life to really serve me up a lesson that it normally takes people up to a lifetime to learn. My quarter life crisis, like any other life crisis, was full of a lot of learning and relearning. Learning how the world worked, relearning who I really was. We lived out of our cars for longer than anyone would ever want to. We borderline starved, having to eat baby food in order to obtain the nutrients we needed for a fraction of the price of having to make a real meal. We had been so far behind on bills that eventually everything I had worked so hard for had simply slipped from my fingers and into a pool hand me downs for everyone else to enjoy. Intertwined with all this mess, you could also find people that made our situation worse. We met some really grimy people out there. People that by looking at them you would think were honest to good people. People you felt like could help you out in some way, or at least could add some light into this dark phase of my life, but instead took advantage until there was utterly nothing left.
California broke me down. I moved back to Jersey, not even FL but Jersey, with my tail between my legs. Here I had assumed relocating to California would be so easy like it had been when I had moved to FL but I was so wrong, on so many levels. Now here I was, crawling back home with the need to be around family and friends from my old life, a life I never wanted to come back to, with a need to regroup after my worse than awful travel adventure. Since then it has been years of me revamping myself, recreating from the rubble that was left behind from my adventurous travel, but not before making a few more minor mistakes (that were not so minor). I say mistakes, but in reality it is just one mistake I keep making over and over, they’re just dressed up in different costumes.
The desire to make other people happy and smile has been a quality and yet a downfall of mine throughout my entire life. I tend to put other people first, and then it’s my needs and wants that come in second. You could be family, you could be friends, or even strangers. No matter how we are connected, once we are, your happiness and well being are goals for me. People need uplifting?..DUN DUN DUN DUN! Here I was to the rescue! In my early years I always considered that to be such a good quality to have because, honestly, now a days who really does that? As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned what a hindrance it could be.How can someone place everyone else first and still think that the life they’re living is their own? Up until just recently I have done just that. I have been living the life of everyone else except my own and here I wondered why it was I was so happy (because I am always happy) yet so not happy. There was something missing and what was missing was me. I had taken myself out of my own life for so long that I had become completely lost and wasn’t sure how to find me again. I was dependent on making others happy and once those “others” had left my life for one reason or another I was left alone with not fully knowing who I was anymore or what I truly wanted.
Anyone that has read my other blogs knows what kind of trouble I have been in with the law in the last recent months. Although I am not proud of it, I can honestly say that I’m truly grateful for it happening. Many things that have happened as a result, both good and bad, one of the things I am most happy for has been for the self improvement phase of it all. I’ve obviously have had to cut my partying back some and as a result many of my friendships here in FL have suffered. As a result of that, I have had a LOT of alone time. People often say that when bad things occur it is really a blessing in disguise. I know that this was one of those times. For instance, I was sentenced to mandatory counseling and it was in that counseling that I discovered so much about myself that I honestly wouldn’t have ever learned if it wasn’t for me seeing my amazing therapist. Even as our sessions together slowly dwindle down to the last few, I cherish every second for she has really made life just a wee bit easier for me, if you can imagine that. Not being able to go out as I once often did has allowed me to have much quiet time, which in turn has helped not only my writing and my wallet, but also has given me the opportunity to dive into my self and get to know me all over again.
I have now really figured out what it is that I want to do next. There is no more idling here. There is no more of me waiting for someone to give me a purpose. I am my purpose. I’ve figured out that not everything that we think of as a “need” is a need, and that some wants should come before certain “needs”.
In just a few months I will be completely out of the awkward twenties phase and commencing my thirties. I have set goals and although I don’t have a certain time frame to accomplish them, I have goals that I have placed for myself. Coming from me, that’s huge. Not goals that mean something to other people, but goals that mean something to me. Since a kid I have always felt that my thirties were going to be better than any other phase previously lived. Fuck my high school years ( I actually feel bad for people who’s prime was hit in high school). Fuck my weird and awkward twenties. It was deep in my soul that I felt that my thirties would rock, and I still feel that way now more than ever. I look forward of what’s to come and mainly because it’ll be MY life that is finally being lived out by me.
Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Muse: Angie M. and Natal Galvan