Growing Pains: What I Learned While 25

*Originally written for Women's Elevation Magazine.*

Who knew that being twenty-five years old would evoke such an emotional roller coaster!  This past year has been a tumultuous journey, full of soul searching, crying, and praying.  Though as rocky as it has been, it has been even more exciting and inspiring. While what I have taken away from this year may seem minuscule to some, these five things were amplified in my life during this time. This experience is known to many as a “quarter-life crisis”. 

Your condition is not your conclusion.  

That’s saying a lot!  This is one thing that has plagued me, even before I turned twenty-five. The fear that where I’m at (mentally, physically, emotionally) is where I’m going to stay. When in actuality, that is not the case. It was only a couple of days ago that I actually stopped and realized that everything that I’ve been through, has prepared me for this moment, for my next chapter. For example: I was in and out of “situationships” and I had to learn to be alone, to learn to love myself. I had to take a few years away from college to dig deep and discover what I really wanted from life. I went into debt and had bill collectors calling me day and night, and it taught me the value of money.  I had to find the good in every trial that I faced. I thank God that I’m not where I used to be, but I’m thankful for what it’s taught me.

Pick your friends like you pick your fruit.

As selective as you are with your fruit and the food that you eat, be that way with your friends/relationships. This past year I had to face the music and see people for who they are. Everyone who said that they were my friend was not, and I now know this.  As I get older, I see that I have to call people by what they are in relation to me: acquaintance, classmate, coworker, etc. Those relationships are convenient because of proximity and are easily affected by change, like a new job, graduation, move out of state, or just a lack of communication. The title of friendship is not for just anybody. I learned who was really rocking with me during this time.

This is your lane. No passing allowed!

On the highway of life, everyone has their own lane. I can get easily distracted, or my attention fades, so I might find myself drifting into another lane, neglecting my own space.  I had an epiphany that I wanted to write, a passion that was rebirthed from my childhood. This revelation awakened me as I was carpooling in the next lane, and passing up opportunities, focusing on other things. Things that others expected of me, and not what I wanted for myself. This year helped me to buckle down, navigate in my own lane, and focus on the things that I had been praying for. It’s true that when you stop looking in the rear view at your past, and what’s going on in the next lane, you can focus on the road ahead, and what is actually important.

It’s okay to be alone.

Yes, alone. In my fortress of solitude (or my room), I can really be alone to let out my emotions, read a book, write a blog, watch Netflix, and commune with God. My weekends from the last year look nothing like the years before. I would be out turning up, cuddling up, or just out on the scene. Now, I find peace in being alone and know that it’s okay to go to the movies alone, as well as out to eat, concerts, festivals and others events. I don’t always need a plus one, two, or three. Don’t get me wrong, I am a people person. It’s just that sometimes I need to be on one accord with my personal council of me, myself, and I.

Baggage claim: Sensitive cargo.

I imagine that we all have some type of baggage. Some bags heavier than others, some nicer than others.  I had been in bondage to people for so long, that it mattered greatly what they thought about everything that I did. I would make decisions based on how it would make other people feel, and how it would affect them, and that is no way to live.  It was a habit to absorb everyone’s feelings and problems so much until there was no choice but to break down.  When you’re really tired of something, you will change it or continue to allow it to change you.  I was tired of being captive to the way people felt about me, so in the last year, I have had to learn to check my baggage.  Actually analyzing all things that I’ve been holding onto and holding myself back from doing.  In turn, this has made me a stronger woman, and better at saying “no”, not explaining myself, and meaning what I say!  I’m still willing to help others with their loads, just not to the point where it changes who I am, and weighs me down.