(Pictured: Making Tiramisu, one of my birthday traditions.)
This weekend I’m leveling up in life. All the experience I’ve gathered by wading towards the future over the past year, one second at a time, has entitled me to cast away my age of 27 and emerge victorious at 28. Although I’m not yet certain what 28 will unlock versus 27, I’m sure there will be some epic new gear to equip as well as some new attacks.
So much happened while I was 27! So much expected. So much unexpected. My brother got married. I got married (again). We acquired chickens (technically I was 26, but shh). I queried, finished a rewrite, and finished a draft zero. I made cakes and I avoided making cakes. I (finally!) saw the Grand Canyon. I cried. I laughed. I lived.
And I learned a lot. Which should be expected. If there is ever a year that I look back and don’t think “wow, I sure learned,” then I need to start school all over again. Stat.
This is what I learned:
1) Coffee, contradictorily, makes me more tired. Maybe not right away, but I always get an afternoon slump when I’ve started my day with coffee versus tea.
2) The Grand Canyon needs to be experienced in person to fully appreciate just how freaking grand it is.
3) Hiking across the relatively flat land of England is not equivalent to hiking straight down, then straight back up and out of the Grand Canyon. One is noticeably more difficult than the other.
4) Left to my own devices, I will not run regularly on my own.
5) But! I will actually stick to a weightlifting regime on my own.
6) I can trust myself. If everybody and everything says one thing, but I know in my heart that the opposite is true, I can trust myself to be right. This, of course, only applies to my body and personal life and not, say, science.
7) Dr. Google is an ignorant asshole.
8) There is nothing a long hike cannot solve.
9) If I really, really want something, I have to make the time and effort to achieve it.
10) That said, the required time and effort will, more often than not, be four times as much as I originally planned for. But that doesn’t mean I’m not making progress.
11) Best friends are for high school. Real friends, life friends, will fit into my life in their own ways, and I mustn’t force one friend to fit like another.
12) Getting pregnant is hard. TTC is emotionally draining. Finding a group of people in the same/similar circumstances is necessary to maintain perspective and levity.
13) Diet can only do so much, but what it can do is extraordinary. Also puzzling. Looking at you, chocolate.
14) In that vein, I am sensitive to nightshades, chicken eggs, and chocolate. WTF. No, seriously, wtf?
15) My brother and I will likely never be “friends.” We simply look at the world in completely different, irreconcilable ways. And that’s okay! We can still work together if we need to. And I can try to forge a friendship with his wife instead.
16) Biking to work is very, very satisfying and way less stressful than driving.
17) I’m a summer child at heart. As much as I want to love winter and snow and crisp, biting winds, I’m most at ease baking under an oppressive sun. I love the early sunrises and the late sunsets, I love the pillowy clouds and the vibrant, violent storms, I love the buzz of cicadas and the croak of frogs, I love to splash in puddles and smell the approaching rain on the wind, I love the absence of jackets and the warm, comforting air, I love the clear night sky and the peppering of stars, I love the iced drinks and the flavorful berries. Autumn might make my heart sing, but summer is where I live.
18) Chickens do not go “cluck.” Chickens go “errrr er er er.”
19) Don’t believe those pretty photos of ladies in long skirts cycling majestically through the city! Skirts are actually very difficult to bike in, although this may have something to do with the high bar on my bike.
20) My life doesn’t look like my coworkers’, my friends’, my acquaintances, or even my family’s, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Everybody is in a different place in their journey and the outer shell of their life does not accurately reflect how far they’ve come or how far they have to go. Stop comparing.
21) It is okay to want a child. It is okay to want stability. It is okay to want a fixed home and community. It is okay to want all these “adult” things you shunned only a few years ago. I grew up. I am still growing. I am a different person now, and that person wants different things.
22) Don’t go back and rewatch my favorite television shows and movies of my childhood. They have not withstood the test of time.
23) Except for Sailor Moon. If anything, that show is more nuanced and amazing than I remembered.
24) The things I like might be problematic in some way – sexist, homophobic, racist, or just downright ignorant – but that doesn’t mean they can’t still have some value.
25) My parents have likely lived through a similar rough patch. Share what I’m going through with them. Talk to them. Be open.
26) Always seize the opportunity to go to a concert / attend a live show of a group I love/enjoy. Even if it means staying up well past my bedtime.
27) I still have a lot left to learn.