23 was a big year for me. I didn’t think it would be. I kinda always thought milestone birthdays would bring important life events and revelations, like turning 18 or 20 or 21. But nope, the Universe has other plans for me. It turns out the Universe doesn’t obey to any rules. That’s totally fine by me though. I’m just happy to be in this self-realization/evolving period in my life so young instead of later when I might feel like I’ve wasted too much of my life doing something I didn’t want to do and being someone I didn’t want to be.
Two of the most important things that happened this past year were that I started going to therapy and I became very aware of myself. I became very aware of how I was feeling and acting and I started figuring out what I like, who I am, and who I want to be. I have made great progress, but I still feel like I have a lot more to learn and understand.
This past year I also learned many tools to help manage my anxiety. I have been saying positive affirmations to myself every morning – it sounds silly, but it seriously works! – When I get anxious about anything I tell myself that I am okay and that I can handle it. I also come up with past examples where I’ve done something similar and everything turned out okay. I also learned to take time to feel my emotions, (like sadness, worry, and fear) instead of acting like they don’t exist. I give them their time and place, and then I let them go. I don’t try to stay in the negative emotions for too long. Turns out staying in negative emotions can make things a lot more miserable.
I also read about a million books, which I will list below. The ones that had the most impact on me were:
Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Are U Ok? By Kati Morton
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
I found there was a lot of overlap of main points throughout most of the books. They just had their own way of getting the point across. Here a list of the rest:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
The Fear Cure by Lisa Rankin
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
29 Gifts by Cami Walker
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
Judgement Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Feel the Fear was the most impactful book and I only read it a month ago. The funny thing is that it made the same point as every other book I read. So, either the fact that I read the same thing over and over made it finally stick in my mind or I identified more with the way this one was worded. Maybe both. Either way, Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway spoke to me. Also, Wildmade me cry. That book is seriously powerful.
Ok, what else happened this year?
I’ve started opening up a little more and being more vulnerable. This has helped me feel better and has strengthened some of my relationships with friends and family members. I also started thinking and being more positive.
I have also discovered my spiritually. This has been the most surprising to me on my self-discovery journey. If you would have told me two years ago that I would one day start believing in the Universe and energies, I would not have believed you. But now, I believe that positive energy can be a very powerful thing. Well, I’m starting to believe anyway.
Over the past year I have started doing many things that I used to think couldn’t possibly work or that just sounded like a waste of time. Being positive and saying affirmations are two examples of that. I also started making goals for each month and using a habit tracker for things I want to do and accomplish. Because of this I have been learning Spanish, going out and doing more things, seeing friends more often, having fun creatively, and getting stronger. (6 months ago I couldn’t do a single pull up, now I can do 3!) It turns out that I love being able to check things off on a list. So creating physical goal lists and having a habit tracker in my planner where I can check things off once I’ve completed them works very well for me.
Now all this isn’t to say that I didn’t struggle this past year or get depressed. I absolutely did. Being positive every day is a very hard thing to do! And January was not a good month for me depression wise. (My post “It’s a Process, Not Perfection” talks more about my struggles and how I got myself out.) I also struggled with moving forward and getting out of the place where I felt awful. It’s a little confusing and might be hard to understand, but in the beginning I wanted to stay in my pain. I wanted to stay in the sad and dark place because it was what I knew. It was “comfortable.” Even though I didn’t like what was going on and I hated feeling that way, I wanted to stay there. That only changed about two months ago when I made some changes to my mindset and started feeling much happier. I realized that I wanted to feel like that all the time. It was a big step. Of course it wasn’t an immediate 180. I still get feelings like I used to, but since I have experienced something better, I don’t want to stay in that pain as much. It’s actually quite a freeing feeling.
So, those are the major breakthroughs I had when I was 23. I also did a few life things, like got a job and went back to school for a bit, but those didn’t impact me as much as everything else. I’m glad I had this time to explore who I am and grow. I’m glad to finally be taking my mental health seriously. And I’m glad to be at this point in my life.
So here’s to 24.
Here’s to embracing and strengthening current relationships and creating new ones.
Here’s to discovering even more about myself.
Here’s to taking care of myself mentally.
Here’s to indulging my creativity.
Here’s to feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
Here’s to the adventures and the journey
May you be ever more exciting.
Until next time friends.
A quote for 23: “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Anaïs Nin
A quote for 24: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
- Susan Jeffers
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