Guys, I turn 23 tomorrow and I AM SO EXCITED. This sounds super dumb, but 23 has always been my favorite number and tomorrow, I TURN 23 on THE 23rd. Like, I dare you to try and tell me it's not going to be awesome.
My husband and my family are awesome so this week is jam packed with so many fun things, and I feel so spoiled that I get a birthday WEEK instead of just one day. But I mean, I guess I'll accept the attention (;
I LOVE birthday posts and I was inspired by my friend Rachel's birthday post to write one similar to her's for my own birthday, so I thought I would share 23 thoughts on my 23rd birthday.
1. I got married when I was 21, but spent the most of 22 experiencing my first year of marriage. People will judge the CRAP outta you for being married young, marrying your only boyfriend, for not dating longer, for not being engaged longer, for not having everything figured out, for not being out of college, for not picking the right wedding colors etc. Don't mind them. They don't get an opinion.
2. Last year, I went to Vancouver Island, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Petaluma, Boston, Richmond, Sarasota, Savannah, Charleston, Tampa and Hartford for the first time (not to mention Los Angeles, the Jersey Shore, DC, NYC for a second (or more) time!). I never thought I would enjoy traveling in the United States more than international travel. But while I still have desires to see as much of the world as I can, I love traveling domestically!
3. This past year, I grew SO much as a person. I pushed myself in ways I had never done so before, like forcing myself out of my comfort zone to meet new people (like Macy, Megan and Laura, as well as people at church and classmates!). I was smacked in the face with hardship. I realized I had wandered away from God and did something about it. I got better at admitting my own fault and apologizing. I learned how to be the bigger person. I set boundaries with negative things in my life that needed to not consume my emotion and energy. I discovered new hobbies, things I had said I would NEVER do, like sports! I found the importance of celebrating others. I feel like I am truly a different person than I was on my 22nd birthday--and that's a REALLY good thing.
4. I TRULY believe I am a better person because I don't have a Facebook.
5. This past year, there was SO much going against me. I felt like multiple people were personally against me for the first time in my life. Facing people who were (and still are) blatant about their disdain for me was a huge blow to my self-esteem. It was (and still is) a deeply painful experience for me and I found myself curled up on the sofa sobbing many a-nights, wishing this heart break would go away. But through the pain, I realized that I relied WAY TOO MUCH on what other people think of me. When I knew that there were people out there who didn't like me or think I was good enough to be a welcome addition to their life, I let it get to me, and it didn't matter that God loves me, my husband loves me, my parents love me, my siblings love me, my friends love me. All that mattered was that someone DIDN'T love me, and the rejection hurt like hell. Some days are still hard, but here I am, still standing and realizing I don't need everyone's approval or love. I am loved no matter what and I rest in that fact. Case closed.
6. I think I love Baltimore more than I love most things on this earth. It's so fun to live in such an amazing place where the city and the country blend into one big glob of adventure. In my opinion, Baltimore has it all-- city life, country life, beach life, mountain life, suburban life-- what more could you want? It's all here. I never EVER want to live anywhere but Baltimore.
7. This past year, I have actually stuck with a workout routine and I credit that to the fact that my panic attacks are finally under control. Pilates has changed my world.
8. Drinking lemon with water in the morning will completely change your day.
9. Be intentional about the food you put in your body, the people you put in your life, the influences you allow in your soul, and the things you let fill up your time.
10. I used to laugh at vegans and chomp my hamburgers and devour my ice cream and leave saving the planet to Peta and it's vegetable-crazed minions. But then, I read words I couldn't believe and I saw things that made me nauseous and as I sat on my sofa, looking at these images, with my dog by my feet, I made up my mind that instant that I wouldn't hurt another living creature. So I threw away my grilled nuggets from Chick-Fil-A and my pizza (which I know are delicious, you don't have to tell me you could never go vegan, because it's hard for me too! I'm not a superhuman...I still want pizza) and I became a vegetable-crazed minion. Because in the vegan world, I've found a community. I've found health. I've found rejuvenation. I've found something that makes me feel SO DANG GOOD- body, soul and mind.
11. That being said, there are days that I bang my head and cry because being a vegan in a meat-crazed society is HARD. Especially in Baltimore where crabs are for dinner every night in the summer, pit beef is sold at every event, and ice cream is just everyone's favorite. There are days when I decide I'm too weak, I'm craving meat or pizza. There are days when I don't want to check the nutrition label. And I have to admit there are days I give in. And I am satisfied temporarily but the lethargy, stomach aches, head aches, fatigue, anxiety and mental fogginess I feel afterwards is not worth it.
12. My amazing, wonderful husband recently went vegan and cut out all meat and all dairy and I swear I've been humbled by his sacrifice time and time again. The fact that he would give up so much just so he could live this life with me and he wants to take care of himself is downright HUMBLING.
13. Get out and support local businesses. This is something I am doing more. I'm avoiding the big guys, and the convenience and I'm getting out there. It feels good and it's makes me feel more alive.
14. I'm trying to find the balance between having an online presence and unplugging. I see such beauty in both, and lately, with summer and all, I've been spending perhaps a little too much time on the screen. It's not good for my body or my mind, but I'm trying to find the balance. (So if you have any tips, I'll take them!)
15. Cacti make me happy, in all their prickly, sassy goodness.
16. I am trying to pay off debt and when you put a chunk of money on a credit card, it feels OH SO GOOD. That being said, I'm thinking my credit card days may be over.
17. Brandon having a job again is SUCH A BLESSING. There's not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for Brandon having a job that he LOVES LOVES LOVES. God is so good, y'all.
18. Schedules and rhythms may get a bad rap because of "adulting sucks", "be a spontaneous teenager forever" stuff that's on the Internet but I have been following a schedule for my days lately, and let me tell you, it is giving my days more peace, more joy and more life. I carve out time for work, play, activity, creativity and nature-- it is life giving.
19. This is the year I'll graduate from college. And I'm scared. I don't want to adult. I want to snuggle in the comfort of academic advisors that plan out my life for me and tell me how much I owe them.
20. When I transferred colleges 4 years ago, I definitely thought I would be the commuter student that had no friends and just skated through the next three (or four, but hey, who's counting?) years by barely being a "real" college students. But Towson University has MORE than surprised me. I have fallen in love with this school, all it has to offer and the absolutely incredible friends I have made. I legit never thought I would make friends at Towson, after living on campus at UD, but I have made some of my best friends in both my Deaf Studies major and my Elementary Education major. So blessed. So, so blessed.
21. It's not about us. This thought has brought me SO MUCH PEACE in my most restless of moments. It's just not about us, it's not about me, it's not about you. The day we put each other first and humbly, gently serve them, is the day we will know what it is like to be happy. It's not about us, it's about God. THAT is the key to inner peace and happiness. Not the crap the world is selling to you.
22. Community is KEY. It's just so dang important. None of us were meant to do it alone, and none of us were meant to do it with people who were half-hearted about our well-being. It's so tough to find fierce community in this life, but it is worth the wait, the struggle and the journey.
23. Stop living life the way that you "should" or the way "everyone else is". Freaking do you and who cares about what everyone else is doing. Turn off Instagram, turn off Twitter, stop comparing yourself and just be you. Do what comes natural, do what you like, wear what you think looks best, and put blinders on your eyes so you can stay the course. No one gets to tell you what beauty is, how you should blog, what is best for you, how to live your life or pursue your dreams.