Simply 23.

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About a year ago, I was packing my things into my luggage as tears flowed down from my eyes. I was catching my breath as it seemed far too hard to “celebrate” that day when there wasn’t really anything to celebrate. But there I was, packing and crying.

I spent my birthday on an island with only my family around me. It was a pseudo-surprise trip from my parents because they knew it was what I needed. They knew how much it would mean to me. And I couldn’t have been more grateful than I was.

The day I turned 23, my phone rang nonstop. I cried a lot that day because people remembered it was my birthday. I cried some more because, after everything, the people who truly mattered to me made sure I knew how much I mattered to them too. Almost every call ended with “we love you; hang in there.” And I did.

From then on, I knew there was hope for me. I realized that, while 22nd year was a bad time for me, my 23rd year would be full of hope. From that day forward, I started seeing the world a little less dull and a little more colorful.

I wasn’t disappointed.

On my 23rd year, I was able to attend more concerts than I have since day 1 to day 8,030. I got to meet more people and formed new friendships. I was able to travel with my friends again. I got to live on my own for a few months. I got to change jobs thrice, and finally landed on something I’ve been wanting to do. I was able to go out and enjoy more. I was able to live.

While I faced more challenges since the day I turned 23, I know I’ve grown to be a better person. I can proudly say I’ve changed into a more independent person. I am wiser now, and I have gotten the peace I’ve always wanted and needed.

I can’t help but feel anxious about my 24th though. A lot has changed since I turned 23, and I know more changes will come. The idea that the changes may lead me to another rut simply makes me tremble.

But I know I’ll be fine. I know I’ll do well. I know I’ll grow and get better again.

Despite all that I went through, my 23rd year was of wonder indeed. I just hope year 24 will be the year that leads me further on to a life of contentment. I hope it brings me closer to where I want to be.

This year, I grew. This year, I went yellow from blue. This year, I smiled more. This year, I felt a sense of happiness. This year, I learned what it’s like to simply be 23.

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