Everything will be alright if // we just keep dancing like we’re // 22

Another year older, and this time I have a Taylor Swift song to match my age (which hasn’t happened since I was Fifteen)!
To be fair, I must warn that this post involves some Taylor Swift references at the end. For the readers who are not fans of Taylor 1. you’re crazy and 2. you might want to skip the last part of this entry. But I also drop some pretty relevant wisdom then (if I do say so myself), so hey, your call. For now, I’ll just recap:

Even Gerry got festive
Texas + wine = Rachel

My 22nd birthday was this past Saturday, and the weekend was nothing short of packed with fun-filled activities. On Friday, I was treated to a fabulous lunch at Dairy Queen with some of my favorite people: it was especially sweet of the OPAS staff ladies because we just had our Season 43 Unveiling* the previous night. They worked tremendously hard all week, and it was so kind of them to make me feel so special. When I got home, my roommates surprised me with our downstairs decorated princess-themed, a wine-cork Texas, AND an incredible Cinderella cake!!! They know me so well and are exceptionally brilliant when it comes to showering me with love on my birthday (you can read all about my phenomenal 21st here).

Haylie should just dropout and bake princess cakes for a living.
Best friends under the Century Tree’s “Friendship Branch”

We then went to Downtown Uncorked in Bryan for a great bottle of wine before heading to Blackwater Draw for dinner. Being within walking distance of the university, Julie, Ashley, Haylie and I decided to have a sort of “Elephant Walk” around campus. For those of you who don’t know about this Aggie tradition, Elephant Walk is a time when the senior class marches through campus because they’ve become useless (senioritis kicks in, ammiright?). In relation, elephants retrace their steps to locations previously inhabited when they’re dying. Seniors = elephants. The girls and I reminisced on what seemed like a lifetime ago, despite the oldest memories being a mere three years ago. It was nostalgic and lighthearted, and I cannot think of a better way to have spent the evening. We then returned home to eat princess cake while watching Beauty and the Beast* — all in all, it was an ideal “Rachel” day.

Spice HR
Such a good looking bunch!

The next day — my actual birthday — was spent prepping for Ring Dance. At Texas A&M, Ring Dance is essentially a college version of prom: the seniors get all dressed up and celebrate together. It kicks off the graduation festivities and traditionally is where you turn your Aggie ring around so that it is no longer facing you but “the world” (cause you’re becoming an adult and all). We had so much fun relaxing and getting glam (courtesy of Alex Dunn, whose talents for beauty never fail to leave me in awe). The dance itself was fun, but the highlight of the night for me was participating in one last yell practice as a student. At the end of the party, the three outgoing senior Yell Leaders led everyone in the yells and singing of “The Spirit of Aggieland”. It was a serenely bittersweet moment, as all voices were filled with pride and sentiment. Haylie and I joined up with the rest of Spice JAHR and ventured to North Gate in our evening gowns, laughing and celebrating at the Dixie Chicken into the wee hours of the morning.

The Chicken: an Aggie Tradition and Spice JAHR hangout

Sisters and best friends
22 + 1 to grow on, of course

On Sunday, I got brunch at The Kettle with Alex and Jordan — a most beloved tradition of ours — and had the most wonderful of times chatting with these two best friends. The weekend was made perfect by the arrival of my family, who treated my roommates and I to dinner at Chuy’s with cake and presents. I know I’ve said it about a hundred times on this blog about how much it means to have everyone I love around me, and I will continue to speak about the joy it brings me. Because gathering around a table with both friends and family is a luxury and privilege that I hope I never take for granted, especially with this chapter of my life rapidly coming to its conclusion. 

The thing is, Taylor Swift really nailed it when she described 22 as feeling “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.” Truth be told, this post was going to look a lot different when I initially started to write it. Before dinner, I sat down and began typing about the mixed emotions I’ve felt this past weekend: the emphasis was definitely on the confused and lonely part. But, as T-Swizzle so eloquently sings, everything will be alright if we just keep dancing. This sounds really cheesy (and it is), but it’s so, so crucial to focus on the happiness in this season of life. There’s so much stress associated with trying to find employment post-graduation (which I haven’t), and, to be honest, I felt the twinge of sadness concerning my single status alongside all the couples at Ring Dance. More than anything, though, I’ve found myself filled with anxiety and depression about college ending. This way of life that I have had my happiest moments and thrived in is now coming to a close. I am optimistic for the future and excited to see what God has in store for me, yet I cannot help but mourn for what I’m losing. I would be lying if I didn’t say that this weekend brought  these emotions even more to the surface. I found myself dwelling on the things I don’t have: a job, a boyfriend, and, most importantly, time. But the happiness found in these past few days overcame my sorrow because I feel so much more whole again: the love shown by my friends and family is the greatest birthday gift I received.

I do not know what this 22nd year will hold. For the first time in my life, there is no clear “next step”. But what I do know is that I have so much to be thankful for and so many people that make my life the incredible journey that it is. It may be miserable at times, but there’s always the magic that comes with being young, and I’m so grateful to have such wonderful companions who share in the ride.

*Shameless plug for MSC OPAS: check out the awesome upcoming 2015-16 season, including Beauty and the Beast!

You may also like