This time last year, I was a hot mess. I had no idea what the heck I was doing, I couldn’t seem to figure out what exactly I wanted, and I felt incredibly alone in the world. But 23 proved me wrong….or rather, I overcame it….regardless of where the action lies, I’ve somehow managed to settle into adulthood (sort of). As I told my parents at my birthday dinner on Tuesday, “I don’t feel quite as much of an impostor.”
Birthdays are still weird. On top of the usual I-don’t-know-how-to-deal-with-all-these-feelings outlook, emotions have been running high because my grandmother passed away eight days before my birthday. It was a long time coming — and my family and friends have been wonderful in making this birthday still feel like a celebration despite the recent sorrow — but we’re all still very raw.
I think what used to terrify me about my birthday though, has become an index for the polar opposite. The past few birthdays have been spent harnessing all recollection of past mistakes and shortcomings and speculating about the unknown future. Birthdays serve as a checkpoint to see how the previous 365 days were spent and a starting marker for the next ones. However instead of negativity plaguing my perspective, I spent April 25th recognizing what a profound year 23 had been. And how little I knew about it when my new year first began.
As I talked through all the things I’d done and places I’d been and accomplishments I’d achieved, I looked to what 24 is already shaping out to be. Along with several fun trips and exciting events planned, I’ve got lots to look forward to. As hokey as it sounds, I’m really starting to feel like my old self again.
Life operates in peaks and pits: I was still getting my land legs in 23. But this is 24, and I have a much clearer understanding of the stuff I’m made of.
Today we said “til we meet again” to the woman whose life exemplified adventure, compassion, and faith. My Dede was more than a grandmother: she was a friend, a co-conspirator, and an inspiration. I would brag to people about how cool she was (as seen by this picture of her in China), but she was also incredibly kind and generous. I got to spend nearly every Saturday with her, learning from her example of taking on each challenge and opportunity with a spirit of “Why not?” While we no longer will share in the thrill of a sale or joy of a musical, I know that every time I travel somewhere new, read a great book, find a four-leaf clover, or make my mom laugh, Dede will be there with me, smiling alongside my grandfather and Jesus.