(A recent photo of my face, since stock photos can be impersonal)
Today is my twenty-third birthday, and in many aspects, I feel I can consider myself a true adult–grown up, even. Yet in other aspects, I feel so very young and inexperienced. Sure, I’ve traveled across the world, gained a university degree, and gotten married. I’ve landed my first teaching position, and have successfully managed our finances for over a year (I deserve at least a pat on the back for that one, you guys–I hate money). What is it about the twenties? It’s an odd place to be. I feel too old for sleepovers & staying up late, but too young to be taken seriously. When I introduce myself as Mrs. Pang, I feel as if there’s a chuckle behind people’s smiles like I’m just too young to be married. Does it get better? I’m wondering.
No matter that age I’m turning, I’ve always loved birthdays for the opportunity they give us to look back. To look back on the previous year and all the lessons learned within those days. Just like New Year’s, birthdays give us an opportunity to leave the past year behind with its mistakes, and to pick up a fresh slate. This year I’m saying “goodbye, 22!” Sure, singing 22 by Taylor Swift was fun for the first two weeks, but it got old quickly. Also, 21 wasn’t anything to write home about. And 20 was just weird. 19 was blah, and 18 was scary. So 23, I’m ready for you. Bring on your 365 days.
Still, there’s something to be said for the lessons learned in a year. I always like taking a moment to think of the life lessons I’ve learned in the past year. Just to take a moment and think, “What did 22 teach me?”. So here’s my handful of life lessons gleaned from my 22nd year, in no particular order:
1. Life will break your heart, but God is always faithful–no matter the circumstances.
2. You will make mistakes. You can either allow your regret to cripple you, or change you. Choose the latter.
3. Screaming in a pillow is necessary sometimes. Don’t feel awkward; it’s normal.
4. Learn to forgive, even when your enemy isn’t sorry. Free your heart from hate, and if they choose to apologize, that’s great. If not, at least your heart won’t be eaten up with hate.
5. Wear the red lipstick that you think your lips are too big for, and get the wild haircut you’ve always wanted. Secretly want a nose ring? Go for it. Everyone needs an extra dose of confidence, and less regret.
6. Speaking of hair, take your grandmother’s advice: “It’s only hair. It’ll grow back”. Remember that when the hairdresser goes ‘scissor-crazy’.
7. Don’t allow friends to borrow books you actually care about. You won’t see them again.
8. Stop stressing about fitting into a size 6. And whatever you do, don’t cry over your body size. Wear clothes that fit and feel amazing–forget the label’s number.
9. One amazing, trustworthy friend is more valuable than 10 wishy-washy, sketchy friends. Find yourself a friend you can call in the middle of the night when your life is falling apart.
10. If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never do it. Take the job opportunity, travel across the world, go skydiving, or do all three! Life’s an adventure. Go live it to the fullest.
Here’s to 23. Onward.