Lessons From the Last ~29 Years
[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
I feel like I was just turning 25, and here I am, turning 29. The last year of my 20's crept up on me quickly. I'm surprised, yet I expected this. Aging is the most predictable occurrence in the world, yet so many of us fight it. I've met so many women (and a few men) who fight age with a vengeance. Lip filler, tummy tucks, Botox, hair dye, thousands upon thousands of dollars spent each year on primping and priming their faces, making sure their bodies look a certain way, and I'm just not sure why they do it. Is it for themselves, or is it for a world that prioritizes youth? I'm not sure about you, but I feel better the older I grow.
When I was in my early 20's, I was lost. I was battling an eating disorder, injuring myself, going through treatment, and dating someone who was less than good to me. I had no money, no sense of what I wanted to do with my life, and very little purpose. The things that have tethered me to reality for many, many years have always been my ability to be creatively expressive and my ability to run. I have made time to run and write despite life changes, career moves, new locations, new relationships, new friends. In my early 20's, I wrote piles of poems that never saw the light of day. Poems about my eating disorder, poems about my ex, poems about feeling unloved, poems about the darkness I saw and felt creeping through the shadows of everyday life. When I was mentally unwell, the entire world felt dark. The entire world felt heavy.
In my mid-20's, I moved to California, started a new job, ended an engagement, and started running on trails. I traveled as much as my budget would allow and learned through trial and error how to heal my relationship with food and my body. I also learned how to navigate solitude, how to unplug in a world that is constantly plugged in, and how to build healthy boundaries with friends, family, and men. I read a lot of books, planted seeds of friendship that would eventually blossom and solidify. I spent a good portion of my mid-20's learning to navigate my emptions; how to mourn the years I spent in darkness, how to detach from unhealthy dynamics, how to tell when someone was a safe receptacle for my thoughts and vulnerabilities. The world began to feel less heavy and far, far less dark.
The past few years have been the brightest yet. I have untangled unhealthy attachment styles. Logged hundreds of hours of therapy that left me feeling both bereft and hopeful. I've proven to myself, over and over again, what it means to be strong. I've completed races that, only a few short years ago, felt impossible. I've lifted more weights, prioritized rest, and prioritized foods that nourish my body. But I've also grown stronger mentally and emotionally, grown more comfortable saying no, grown more aware of my abilities and areas of weakness. I have laughed more in the last couple years than I ever have. I have noticed small signs of my age and embraced those, too. I've seen and felt my life get better with age. Not only that, but I've built a life that has only gotten riper, fuller, and more satisfying physically, mentally, creatively, and relationally.
I think it's useful sometimes to look back on where you've been to really appreciate where you are and to really understand how far you can go. I never imagined that I would grow into the person I've become. Truthfully, I never had a good idea of what my life would be like as an adult. I was always too focused on the present to be concerned with my future, and that's probably not such a bad thing. I do know that the little girl I was would look at me now and think, "I want to be like her some day." And I do know that the woman I was four years ago never, ever imagined that she could repair her broken bits so well, or create such a deeply satisfying life for herself.
I never had a good idea of where this blog would go either, or if I would keep on writing it. Truthfully, I don't know if I still would be if not for all of you. Everyone who reads this blog, who has reached out in some way, who has followed me, read my poetry, or listened to my audio, has inspired me to keep creating. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading, thank you for your kindness, and thank you for being here.
P.S. Make a contribution to Bigger Than the Trail if you have the time and means. Bigger Than The Trail is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that is using trail running as a platform to advocate for mental health. Your dollars will help someone access care they couldn't otherwise afford. Thank you!