On my 20th birthday, my college roommates took me to the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown San Diego, a hookah bar, and then back to our apartment where they bought me copious amounts of alcohol. I felt good about life - I had just started changing my habits and had lost about 20lbs. I was awaiting my acceptance letter from USIU-Africa. Life was on the upswing, but little did I know what was to come. In the 10 years since then, I...
...moved to Kenya.
Met a boy.
Swam naked in the Indian Ocean.
Experienced intense culture shock.
Lived with the boy.
Learned to love weightlifting.
Earned a B.A. in International Relations.
Muddled through an 11-month-long immigration process.
Landed my first full-time job.
Married the boy.
Experienced intense culture shock again, through the eyes of someone else.
Doubted that the marriage would survive.
Cried, raged, and gradually learned to communicate better.
Doubted myself every day.
Received a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, and changed my diet forever.
Lost a total of 90lbs
Started running, and joined a running group.
Ran a 5K...
and a full marathon.
Experienced the joy of a healthy pregnancy, a peaceful natural birth, and the addition of a daughter to our family.
Learned the true meaning of tired.
Breastfed for 13 months.
Earned my MBA.
Moved to a job in a field that I love.
Have surrounded myself with a loving community of truly phenomenal people.
I had one of those "pinch me" moments the other morning. I was walked out of Starbucks in the morning, looking forward to the work day ahead, reflecting on my daughter's happy smile when I woke her up, feeling healthy and confident. The "me" of 10 years ago used to think a lot about the future, what it would look like what I would be doing... but that "me" could not have imagined my reality. A life so simple, that doesn't look incredibly impressive on paper, but brims with joy and love.
I have no sense of dread over getting older, because I can look back and see that every single year of my life has been better than the last. I saw the world in my 20s, but more importantly, I came to know myself. I am entering my 30s with so much yet unknown, so much wisdom left to gain, but comfortable in my own skin, and what more can you really ask for?
I have been blessed, and I am grateful. The next 10 years will hold many challenges, I think. Grief, loss, various pains that I cannot guess at and have been spared thus far. Life is short, yes, but it is also long, and lots of things can happen, both good and bad. I can't say I am prepared for the bad - is anyone, really? - but I am confident that, whatever happens, I can face it. I have my family, my friends, my tribe, my community at my back, to buoy me up and carry me through. I can only hope for more joy than sadness, and to be able to share that joy with those around me every single day.
That's enough rambling for now. Thanks for reading, friends. Onward!