- Wow. So crazy that another year has gone by. I remember a year ago today so vividly.
25 was one of the most difficult years of my life. I went into 25 having just lost my dog and, more importantly, my grandma. I’m from a very close-knit Lebanese family, and my grandma was our loving matriarch. Losing her was a huge blow for which none of us were prepared. For anyone suffering loss, I’m so sorry. There aren’t words to make it heal faster, but the hurt does subside. The missing doesn’t end, but it becomes easier to reflect on memories with happiness rather than sadness.
Shortly after losing her, I moved to LA. While some people eagerly welcome change and adventure, I am not one of those people. I moved to LA with the knowledge that it would help me achieve the professional goals I had set for myself. If we were discussing purely preference, I never would have left Chicago. It was and is comfortable and familiar. But I knew I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve there, so I moved to LA and Mike took a job transfer to San Diego. Thus began our yearlong experiment in long-distance.
So there I was – living alone in LA, no nearby family, in a shoebox apartment that didn’t even have a counter, let alone a full stove. But the price was right, and I was fortunate enough to be in “dorm style” setup in a luxury building with twenty-four hour doormen. As someone who does not sleep well by herself, it was a necessary trade-off.
Still, it was extremely depressing. Not having anything besides work demanding my attention meant I willingly put in long-hours at the office to avoid going home and being alone in my apartment. I’m somewhat of an introvert, and I don’t make friends easily, either. But, as humans, we adapt, and we survive. While I was in it, I made do. But there were a lot of difficult nights. I experienced a lot of anxiety and depression.
When I was ringing in my 26th year, I had no idea how much better it would get. In the last year, Mike moved to LA, we got engaged, moved into our first “adult” apartment (with FOUR BURNERS AND AN OVEN!!), I signed with an agent, and started this blog. I’ve gotten to wake up with my best friend every day and see his face each night. I’ve gotten to cook actual food and bake real desserts in my big girl kitchen – a creative outlet that had long been untapped. I got to buy holiday decorations and swap them out as the seasons came and went. I got to wake up and sit on our balcony with my coffee and just be. I hosted both of my parents comfortably. We got cable! We found a church. I have a work/life balance. And I’m so happy.
When people say it’s amazing what a difference a year can make, they’re not kidding. The difference from 24 to 25 was rife with loss. But from 25 to 26? Abundant joy.
The most important lesson I learned this past year is patience. For everything, there is a season. If you’re having a year like my 25th, hang tight. One of my favorite lyrics from the musical Les Miserables reads “even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.” The sun absolutely rose again on 26, and I learned things about myself in the struggles of 25 that will inform the way I move forward. It taught me about what I value, what my basic needs are, and never to accept living quarters that can’t accommodate four pots at once.
26 taught me that everything ebs and flows. In the past, I would get anxious if I felt stagnant in my achievements. I can’t say I’m perfect at it now, but I can tell you that I’ve certainly improved at embracing quiet moments. One time, I had an especially slow day, and Mike encouraged me to embrace it, saying, “This isn’t going to last forever.” Sure enough, he was right. Business comes and goes. Loneliness comes and goes. People come and go. We have to learn to brace ourselves for the waves of life so we are controlling our emotional ship, as opposed to letting the waves rock us to our core.
Learn patience. Learn to go with the ebbs and the flows. Consciously acknowledge the things for which you’re grateful and never, ever take the good for granted. Embrace the seasons of your life, and learn what they are trying to teach you. The next season will surely come, and you never know what it will bring.
It’s hard to imagine that 27 will beat 26, but I’m welcoming it with open arms.