I have been 26 for two months today. I think 60 days of living serves as a pretty good indicator of who I am this year.
I'll reevaluate in a few months, but for now: This is who I am at 26.
I am still figuring things out. I waver between contentment and longing, but the emphasis now, I think, is on contentment. It hasn’t always been that way, so I’m happy with the change.
At 26, I am more certain of who I am. I like me in the right now, and I also like who I am trying to become. Some days, as a test, I ask myself if 16-year-old Annie would be proud of 26-year-old Annie. Most days, the answer is yes. Oh, sure, I have my moments. I have moments when I don’t always like who I see in the mirror. The difference, though, is that now I make active steps to improve my body, mind, and soul. I try not to make excuses. I try to find solutions.
I say a lot of prayers for the people I love. Sometimes they’re just short, mouthed words to the sky, and I no longer feel guilty about their brevity. Sometimes a name, a thought, is all I can give, and I think the Father is fine with that. I believe He has the power to turn my meager prayers into miracles, and I’m content in letting Him do His work.
My friendships are growing, changing, and improving. I am discovering what makes me a good friend and what makes me a bad one. I am learning to be careful and selective about how I spend my time. I read somewhere that time is a choice. “You don’t have to spend it how other people think you should.” Those words, I think, could make a long-term impact if I let them sink in and become a part of my daily habits. If I could learn this lesson early, I think it could make my future simple and calm… more how I dream it to be.
At 26, I am not working at my dream job. I think it’s okay to say that now. I am content and happy, but I am not complacent. I am grateful for the experiences this job has brought me, so grateful I found not one, but two jobs in my field right after graduation. I know I am lucky in that. In this economy, a job like mine isn’t anything to sneeze at. But I know, too, that I can be grateful while also being eager for more. I’m not sure what the future holds for my career, but I’m at a place where I’m more willing to look and explore new possibilities.
This is a year to be brave. In January, I chose awaken as my word for 2012. I think my soul has been awakening. There has been boundary-setting and letting go and moving forward. There has been forgiveness and discovery.
At 26, I don’t want to look like everyone else. I want to know, without a doubt, the importance of my no and my yes. I don’t want to complain to friends about how busy and overwhelming life is. When I say I have plans, I want that to sometimes mean I have plans to spend time at home. I want to make my home — not necessarily the cooking and cleaning, but the hospitality and the peace there — a priority. I want to live a simple life, and I don’t want to feel guilty for it. I want to know that I can be intelligent without having an advanced degree or a job that pays six figures. I want confidence in the decisions I’ve made and will continue to make. I want to stay off Facebook because it makes me a jealous, unhappy person.
I want to make a difference, and not in a naive, change-the-world-just-as-soon-as-I-do-this-one-last-thing kind of way, but in a way that changes those around me, right where I am. I want to mean something to the people I come in contact with. At 26, I want to be friendly to the lady who bags my groceries. I want to deliver food to friends who are ill. I want to eat lunch with the homeless, to open my home to people who need a place to go.
And then there is the writing. As with every year before and probably every year that will come next, I want to write, in whatever capacity God gives me to do it. At 26, I enjoy writing here as often as I can. I enjoy writing for Beautifully Rooted. I enjoy sending my words out into the world. Sure, they’re not always perfect, not always the words I’d pick if I were given the chance to take it all back and start over. But they’re my words, and I’m thrilled the Father is letting me spout them out here and there. It’s a gift, I know, and I want to keep using it in whatever ways I’m given.
At 26, I am certain of the things that I love. I love being outside. I love having the windows open. I love music. I love reading good books. I love spending time with friends. I love eating good food. I love discovering new things. I love working with my hands. I love good, funny television. I love traveling. I love story-telling in all of its various shapes and forms. I love my home. I love my husband. I love my family. Right now, I love living in Tallahassee. I want to spend my year indulging in these things.
At 26, I really, truly love my life, and I hope, 12 months from now, 27-year-old me can say the same.
image from Magpie Paper Works