By: Alyssa Gagnon, Regular Contributor
Today I turned 25, and in a selfish, inward facing moment, this blog is going to be all about the things that I know. These are the things that being on the earth for 25 years has taught me. Here goes.
You cannot give of yourself until you give to yourself. This is something that I think people say a lot, and it’s also something that you cannot truly know until you just know. The fact is, until I love and accept who I am, I cannot be fully present for others. And if I am not truly present, then I am not giving the best of myself. I am beginning to see this and feel this now. I ebb and flow, knowing the sometimes I can give and give and give, while other times, I have to retreat and recalibrate myself before attending to anyone else.
Sometimes, the most meaningful gift you can give yourself is a release of expectation. There is a passage from Ray Bradbury’s “Farewell Summer” that says: “Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You've got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It's like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That's a triumph.” I’m not about to go over a waterfall, but I do like the analogy. It’s so important to recognize that sometimes, there is just nothing to be done except to gracefully accept your station in life.
Sometimes, the most important thing you do will be to dream beyond anything that is realistic or sane. Right now, I’m doing that. I find that if I tell others my outrageous goals with confidence and more moxie than they’ve ever seen, my plan sounds less and less unattainable. Dreaming huge has created opportunities that I would never have seen otherwise. It has spawned friendships that are definitely going to last a lifetime. It has brought out a sleeping giant within me that is capable of those wildest dreams.
There will be a lot of times you seriously have zero idea what to do. I try to be OK with this, and it’s super hard. These mid-twenties years feel like a time where I should finally be sure of myself. I thought that at 25, I would know how to spend my days, and that I might know where my future was headed. I thought that at 25 I would be able to decide with conviction what to wear in the morning! I do not. But I think that not knowing what to do indicates that there is still growing to be done. There is still so much for me to learn and see. Not knowing what to do means there are choices and open doors and so many figs to choose from that you simply do not know which to choose (The Bell Jar anyone?)
While this post feels slightly self-indulgent, I know, too, that looking back and recognizing what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, and who you’ve become is essential to forward movement and future growth. I’m sure in another 25 years, the lessons I choose to highlight in a short reflection will be very different, but neither set is any less authentic or important.
Being 25, and knowing these things only serves to underscore one, giant truth: wherever I am, wherever any of us are, at each given moment, is exactly where we’re meant to be, and it is up to us to find the beauty, the love and the grace.
This is a great time of year to reflect on where you are, who you are, and your journey. Share some of your discoveries with us here!
Alyssa grew up on a diet of grilled cheese, books, and ice cream with books predominating. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree in English and lives in her favorite place with her favorite husband (she only has one). Post-graduation, her plans are to start a new women’s magazine that leaves women feeling GREAT about who they are, and to open a publishing house for untapped talent.
image via seanwes.com