Birthday Time

Until recently, I was convinced that I was 27 years old. My boyfriend did the math for me during the summer, when I was so stubbornly sure that I could.not.possibly be only 26. Turns out, he was right.

It’s my birthday this week. I will be turning 27. I did that math, and I’m sure it’s true.

This birthday ushers me into the last stretch of my 20’s, which brings a bit of reflection and a tremendous amount of relief. My 20’s have been jam-packed with all manner of awesome and ouch. I’ve created the strongest friendships I’ve ever know, I’ve run marathons, and I’ve taken on and succeeded in roles that I couldn’t have dreamt of for myself 7 years ago. But, I’ve also found myself with more questioning, confusion, and fear than I would care to readily admit.

My 20’s have been a series of land-in-my-lap opportunities, curious observations, painful self-discoveries, and lessons on how to stretch, adapt, and find room for it all to fit. These past seven years have sometimes felt strange and  uncomfortable, an ugly truth which I have fought and ignored with equal measure.

But then I talk to other people, and women in particular. Women whose assertiveness, style, zest, and grace give me something to strive for. These women are generously blessed with more years and experience than I, and they tell me that all of this confusion and discomfort grows more simple the longer you keep at it. They tell me that life doles out situations and challenges that reveal our personal shadows, our resolve, and the strongest versions of ourselves. And really, it’s the strongest version of ourselves that we’re all working to uncover, right?

I’ve noticed, more so within the last two or three years, that each year leaves me with a clearer sense of my particular strengths, a better gauge for what works for my life, and a little less hesitation to re-arrange accordingly. I owe that to my 20’s. To which, I say:

Cheers to 27.

Cheers to the next three years.

Cheers to all that undoubtably lies ahead.

Tell me: If you’re in your 20’s, how are you doing? What have been the challenges and the triumphs? If you’ve already got your 20’s under your belt, what do you remember most about them? What did you learn?

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15 thoughts on “Birthday Time

  1. I love and hate thinking about this. Love because I have hope time will chisel me into one of the zesty women you describe. Hate because I’m easily discouraged by how far I have to go.

    My greatest challenge has been wading through this massive trade show of people expressing theories for the best way to live. The best way my parents proposed, the best way of teachers and mentors, the best way as propagated by the media. But I think I can agree that each year has heralded a clearer vision of my heart and mind.

    Sometimes I think that one day I will arrive. But the sooner I accept the growing, changing, and seasonal cycle of life, I imagine, the sooner I can accept that I won’t, in fact, arrive. Mature and evolve, certainly, but arrive? I cannot believe it’s possible.

    I suppose even that realization is a triumph.
    Thanks for making me think!

    • From what I gather, you are closer to the zesty woman than you give yourself credit for! But I wholeheartedly agree with questioning the notion of “arriving.” I think life is just too fluid and dynamic for us to ever get it all figured out. But growing strong and flexible enough to move with it all, and standing firm in who we are and what’s most important to us; I think we can certainly work towards that!
      p.s. I have a serious love/hate relationship with this topic, too. Thanks for being the first to bring your perspective to the conversation!

  2. Oh Miss Lady,
    The twenties were scary for me. I remember crying when I turned 18 because, I thought at the time, that I wasn’t a kid anymore and it was time to grow up. I had a serious case of Lost-Boy syndrome. I didn’t want to do it, because once you grew up there was no turning back.
    Thankfully, my twenties proved me wrong. I have learned to continue to have fun and to strive for happiness. I, like you, have had those horribly ouch-y moments that have made that hunting for joy harder. Going back to school, mainly now that I’m done (yipee), has brought me a renewed sense of purpose and has allowed me to return to that goofy and fun place I thought I was going to loose after 18.
    My dear friend, here’s to your 27 years wonderful, tomorrow, and to your next 3 until we venture into fabulous 30 together. All my love.

    • I remember us talking about that once – the fear that “growing up” meant no more fun. You are a shiny example of how to live with enthusiasm and fun in every corner of your life. You are going to be an AWE-SOME teacher, and I am so happy we get to venture into our 30’s (and beyond) together. All my love to YOU!

  3. Now that I’m firmly (ahem, barely!) in my thirties, I can look back at my 20’s and see that I learned a few lessons. Some things become (thankfully) easier as we age. The older we get, the better armed we are to deal with setbacks: problems that would have knocked me off of my feet at 19 barely cause me to blink now. The self-involvement, the need to figure it all out right-now-right-away that plagued me in my 20’s has (hallelujah!) definitely mellowed. But I don’t think we miraculously figure anything out by aging another year. Nor can anyone else give us the answers. I think growing older, in many ways, involves letting go of other people’s perceptions and those piles of self-imposed expectations.

    • You’re absolutely right, Rian. I don’t think we ever get it all “figured out” – we just find new places within us that are equipped to handle what gets thrown our way. And letting go of other people’s perceptions and our own self-imposed expectations? Yes, please! I’m all on board with that. In the meantime, let’s both enjoy a birthday treat! Thanks so much for the happy wishes. 🙂

    • Ha! It’s good to hear aging never gets old, Ryan. I imagine running never gets old, either! Is the magic ability to run Ultra-Marthathons something I have to look forward to, as well?! Thanks for joining in with the conversation. 🙂

  4. Hi Katie, I came back to your page and saw the number ‘9’ on the right hand side. When I clicked on it, your comment section and Like buttons appeared. Not sure why it is showing as ‘9’??? Anyway, happy birthday!!

  5. I’ve just realised it meant 9 comments! However, on my computer the little comment box is impossible to see! Others obviously can see it. Sorry about the confusion and good luck with blogging!

  6. Happy belated birthday! My 20s are now fading into a past life that I only vaguely remember… I learned a lot about myself in those years though. I learned how it feels to really fall in love, for real. How no one knows that “forever” really means when they get married. How to be comfortable in my own skin. How to accept the things that make me ME and not hide them from others. In my 20s I think I learned how to be prepared for the real life that would present itself in my 30s. In your 20s, just like in your teens, you think you’ve learned so much- you know it all. I realize now how little I knew. Which makes me realize how much more I have to learn, going forward.
    And yes, you’ll get stronger with each year! Welcome to BlogLand…
    PS I love that you thought you were a year older than you really are. My mom thought that when I turned 29. She thought I was turning 30. HELLO.

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes! It’s funny how you mention that when you’re in your 20’s, you think you know so much. I have a distinct memory of myself at age 16, sitting at a stoplight, thinking, “I don’t think I could be any more mature than I am right now.” HA! The joke was on me with that one.
      I don’t have thoughts like that anymore, and I know there is much to be learned. Stories like yours are so encouraging, knowing that whatever is ahead will lead us to the places we were always meant to be. I’m glad we connected!

  7. I’m almost half-way into my 30’s with a little girl who tracks her age so closely it’d be difficult for me to forget my impending bump on the age-o-meter. I had a checklist for happiness in my 20’s that I completed. My 30’s has been more about finding out what I really want, that happiness isn’t an external achievement but an internal presence and tapping into there when finding my way. With that I hope you had a Happy Birthday, Katie!

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes, Kristy! The “happiness checklist” is a funny thing, and such an easy distraction from working on the internal stuff (which is so much less fun). Thank you for sharing a bit of what you’ve experienced in your 30’s. From what others have said, it seems like a fabulous place to be!

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