Big Birthdays

This Thursday marked three years without a drink. And in seven days I will turn twenty-nine.

On that day three years ago, I was starting over. Internally, everything felt wrong. While to outsiders it looked like I was holding everything together, inside I was a mess. I had hit a dead-end. I was more terrified than I have ever been. That day, everything changed. That day marked the beginning of my journey of coming back to life.

What should your twenties be like? A period for hitting the ground running. For freedom. The freedom to live wherever you want, with whoever you want, and to sleep all day after staying up all night. For making money and embracing adult responsibilities. For taking that beautiful college degree you’ve earned, framing it, and landing the career job you’ve put on a pedestal. For home buying and falling in love and preparing to make a family. For coming into yourself.

Let me smash those ideas and tell you what they are really like. My twenties have been painful. They have been a process. They have been full of failures, bewilderment, and feeling constantly behind. My shortcomings and character defects have blindsided me. I have fallen short of my expectations. I have had to ruthlessly edit myself. I came to resent Corporate America in an astonishingly brief amount of time. I sought comfort in the wrong places. I had my heart hurt more times than I like to count. I began to give up on having a family and doing it all. I came into myself, but certainly not in a pristine manner. I earned bumps and bruises and scars and came tumbling through in a glorious blaze of dust.

I suppose that my twenties have gone as well as I could have hoped. I obliterated myself. I began to rebuild. I learned to sit through tragedy and nearly unbearable emotional pain, failure and achievement, false starts and dreams realized.

My twenties brought me through college, the unexpected loss of my step-brother, a move to San Diego which became home, heartbreak, the end of my drinking, the termination of friendships I thought would last forever, the beginning of friendships so deep and strong I count count on them to carry me through any hardship, embarking on my professional career, the blossoming and nurturing of my passion for writing, traveling to destinations around the globe, becoming a dog mom, a reunion with my father that was twenty-two years overdue, navigating the grief that suicide brings, and falling in love.

My twenties have taught me that I can almost lose it all through self-sabotage and fear-fueled, destructive behavior. They broke me down and shaped me and built me back up. They showed me that I can do anything I put my mind to, for better or for worse. I am capable of burning it all to the ground and also of nurturing it all into fruition. I have the potential to run from everything, to stuff my feelings, and to be a victim or to do an about-face and own my wrongs, my rights, and my story.

The past three years have facilitated a re-connection with a fearless passion and confidence that I held in my youth.I have learned how to do, well to do most of the time, what at once was impossible for me- to sit back and appreciate my life as it unfolds rather than fearfully trying to control every moment of it.

And it took the better part of the last 1,097 days to realize what brings me true fulfillment. It isn’t a job title or a salary or the acceptance of others. It isn’t shutting the door on my past and pretending it all never happened.

It’s a deep connection to the world around me. It’s the richness of my relationships. It’s the quality of my interactions. It’s self-care and reflection and prayer that I now make a priority in my daily routine. It comes from admitting fault. It comes from working on the things that need work rather than turning the other cheek and hoping for the best. It comes from a willingness to confront my sources of shame and massage them into a place of acceptance. It comes from facing my demons head on and knowing they won’t destroy me. It comes from honesty and vulnerability.

I have seen the darkest recesses of my soul and come back out into the light. I have experienced healing in the parts of me which I thought were permanently broken.

My twenties haven’t been ideal, or pretty all the time, or what was expected. They ended up being a hunt for inner peace.

What are you hunting for?

xoxo

Sarah

 

 

 

 

26 Things I Learned at Twenty-Six

1. Cultivating a better sense of self-not everybody’s doing it. Not everybody gets more mature,  driven, or self-aware as they grow older. Don’t waste your time on these people, there’s too many awesome ones to surround yourself with.

2. Sometimes you’ll hate your day job. Don’t give up.

3. Follow your passions. They are the surest source of true joy, and will never lead you astray. Unless your passions are boozing and drugging- find something that doesn’t involve numbing yourself to the world around you.

4. Accept your past. You can’t change it, you can’t will it away, and you certainly can’t continue apologizing for it. Love your past, it helps shape you into the amazing person you are becoming.

5. It’s not bad to have lots of acquaintances, as long as you’re okay with those acquaintances not showing up for you. Acquaintances are for networking, best friends are for showing up. Just be sure to keep the two straight.

6. Married by thirty? Maybe. If not-it’s not the end of the world.

7. Kids by thirty? Forget it. I won’t be done with being selfish by then.

8. And that reminds me…the idea of having children is no longer automatic. Becoming a mother has always been an assumed part of my life plan, but I’ve come to realize it’s not a necessity at this point. I would love to have them, but I am not planning my life around a ticking biological clock.

9. Your words don’t determine who you are, your actions do. However, be sure to keep your words kind.

10. If you don’t want to eat the whole tub of ice cream, just don’t buy it. Quit deluding yourself that you’ll have any amount of self-control once you have that sucker home alone.

11. Sunday funday is no longer defined by bottomless mimosas. It’s beach days, quality time with loved ones, and Netflix marathons.

12. Your bed is an investment. Forget old pillows and crappy mattresses, ain’t nobody got time for that when you’re working a 50+ hour work week. Take a note from me and double up on that mattress topper!

13. You constantly question your purpose. My therapist tells me that’s normal. We’ll go with that.

14. Meditating is healing. It’s also freaking hard. Trying to sit still for ten minutes or more with a clear head is next to impossible. On the list of “things to work on” for twenty-seven.

15. Superficial attraction vs. actual attraction to a person- it’s different and it matters.

16. You’ll start to care less about what others think of you. Which means you’ve learned to accept yourself. Appreciate this.

17. You have to date a lot of the wrong people to know when you’ve found the right one. Still haven’t found the right one, but I must be getting close with all the wrong ones I’ve gone through!

18. Living with two girls or more is hell. Living with only one is a much better dynamic.

19. A good roommate situation is vital to happy living. Sometimes, you may end up in living situations that suck the life out of you. Eliminate this as soon as possible. Having a respectful, kind roommate makes your life infinitely better.

20. Juice. It’s no longer cute, or acceptable, to ignore your body’s need for nutrients and balance. An unhealthy diet is also detrimental to the aging process. Juicing is a great way to give your system the boost it needs- any gal on the go can appreciate this.

21. Your parents really are the coolest and best people in your life. Well, maybe not always the coolest. But they are always there for you, giving unconditional love and support when you need it the most. I love you, Mom.

22. Failing teaches you your strength. There’s nothing like letting yourself down in a spectacular way to truly learn the hardest lessons. Keep it up, it’s the best way to grow.

23. Live minimally, splurge occasionally. Occasionally does not equal daily. This applies to shopping, manicures/pedicures, food, vacations, and dessert. Go ahead and have seconds, or thirds, of the birthday cake.

24. The importance of love, kindness, and understanding. Learning to give rather than take these things will make you a better everything, and lead to a happier you.

25. Act like a fly on the wall. I’m an emotional person, and this doesn’t always lead to me reacting in the best way. I’ve found that if I’m in a stressful situation, and I imagine myself as a fly on the wall, I can get some distance from it and act in a much more logical (and dignified) manner.

26. Most of the time you have no flipping idea what you are doing. Just roll with it. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. That’s what your twenties are meant for, figuring it all out.

Twenty-six was good to me. I think twenty-seven is going to be even better.

Do you have any lessons you’ve learned in your twenties or beyond? I would love to hear about them!

xoxo

Sarah

Out with the Old, In with the New

As I am closing out the last few weeks of my mid-twenties, and preparing to kiss twenty-six a sweet farewell, some changes need to be made.

The change most relevant to you, my lovely readers: the blog name 26 and Stumbling.

It occurred to me about a month ago that I hadn’t considered the fact that naming my blog after my age would require some updating in the future. I can’t even begin to figure out my own thought process on that one- except that there wasn’t much of one. Ha. I guess that, in that “creative” moment, I hadn’t known how it would go. This whole blogging thing. If it would even go. But here I am, closing out twenty-six, and I feel as though I am just getting started on developing my writing and presence as a blogger. Well, let’s be honest here, trying to develop my presence as a blogger. Also see: attempting, struggling, sometimes deluding myself into believing …etc. Anyways, I digress.

When thinking of a new name, I wanted something that would be relevant and interesting to twenty-somethings in a broad sense. The twenties are an amazing and difficult time; they are all about finding and learning to love yourself. It’s a growth process. It’s at times painful. It’s mostly glorious. You are all you’ve got, and you owe it to yourself to try your hardest to become the best version of you possible. The twenty-somethings are supposed to be your selfish years, where you put yourself first in a resolute and unapologetic way. Sometimes, it feels like everything is happening all at once and you cannot quite keep up. By “everything”, I mean life. The highs, the lows, the accomplishments, and the challenges. It’s sort of like when you accidentally increase the speed on the treadmill too high and you start to lose your footing, and you have to grab the sides of the machine in order to keep from falling flat on your face in front of the incredibly fit chick running effortlessly next to you. Not that that’s ever happened to me. And, not only is it all happening at once, everything seems important on a monumental scale. Even the nothings- like a first date, a new friendship, or a particularly good day, are felt deeply and hugely. There are just so many feelings so much of the time when you are a twenty-something.

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Twenty-Everything. The new and (hopefully) improved version of 26 and Stumbling, just like I hope the big 2-7 will be for me. A little bit of everything, and hopefully more along the lines of finding my footing than stumbling.

It is still going under some edits and revisions, so please bear with me during this time. Like me, it is a work in progress. 🙂

xoxo

Sarah