Every year in mid-September, I go through a bit of a crisis. OK, not so much a crisis as a time of deep reflection. Of self doubt. Of slight despair.
The million dollar question, one I ask myself every year, is, "I'm 28 (or whatever age I'm turning). What have I done with my life?" I haven't changed the world, I haven't had a great life epiphany, and I haven't starred in a Broadway musical. The 15-year-old Angeline would be so disappointed.
So what have I done with my life? Not much of anything important to the world, but a lot in terms of personal growth.
At 19/20: Stopped trying to be cool and found life was better being myself (many others agreed, though I lost a number of friends along the way). Learned to trust myself and not compromise, especially in dating. Fell in love with a guy that encouraged me to be a better person and follow my dreams.
At 21: In a year-long office internship, learned to deal with a micromanaging boss and tension-charged work environments. After graduation, ditched my college major and a full-time job offer to pursue my dream of working in magazines in New York City.
At 22: Learned to sleep well on red-eye flights. Seriously doubted my abilities and life direction, leading to lots of anxiety, which I poured into blogging to a non-existent audience. Learned the value of good verbal communication in a cross-country relationship.
At 23: Overcame my self-doubt momentarily to finish my Master's Degree. Got married and learned that I wasn't at the center of the universe (never was, never will be).
At 24: Started my first full-time job (with benefits!) and budgeted out a student loan repayment plan. Survived many faux pas and regrets as I learned to adapt to the office work environment.
At 25: Stopped comparing Sacramento to NYC and learned to love my new home.
At 26: Put myself out there (online and in person) and learned how rewarding it could be. Learned that no matter how hard you work and how good you are at something, some people will never get past their own mental roadblocks or perceptions of you. Realized that others' mental roadblocks or perceptions of you should never stop you from working hard and doing good work. Saw the fruits of my budget as I paid off the last of my student loans.
At 27: Deepened friendships new and old. Denied for a year that I was in my late-20s. Took a huge leap of faith with a big move and a big career change. Continued putting myself out there in an even more intimidating environment.
Things I'd love to say next year about being 28:
- Learned to be a good friend from afar. I hate the phone and am inconsistent with emails, but friendships are not going to maintain themselves. I have a lot to learn.
- Learned to take care of myself. My eating habits are not bad, but my health and exercise habits are terrible. I learned during my eczema breakout earlier this summer how important it is to care for my body, starting with a regular exercise and vitamins.
Shameless Plug: I've entered Lucky Magazine's search for a new Lucky Life contributor! Rounds 1 and 2 were qualifiers, and now it's all based on fan votes. So if you like Lucky Magazine—or if you just like me—check out my Modern Mediterranean Birthday entry and vote! [Lucky log-in/registration required.] Voting for this round ends Friday. Thank you!