Updated: Jan 12
As a teenager, 26 felt grown. My mom had me when she was this age, so I naturally stepped into 2023 curious if anything would change, if things would click.
In hindsight, I knew better than just to expect things to change, but I guess that’s just what you do when you’re anxious. You pray for nature to do its thing because it’s less scary than the idea that these big feelings and milestones only happen when you force yourself to find them.
The transition from your official mid-twenties mark to the official start of your late twenties is a momentous one in my book. It’s a special kind of chaos and confusion that I think left me a lot wiser. It’s not glamorized like 15 to 16, not liberating like 20 to 21, but it was the most grounding — and a firm surface to plant my feet is all I need right now.
Last year, I learned that perfection is my worst enemy.
I started 2023 year with a long list of goals. I drew out a timeline, I mapped out ideals that would transform my life for the better, and I painted a picture that I swore would come to be if I used my time right.
My motto was “Do things with intention.” I wanted everything I did to have a clear purpose — because life is short and fleeting, and my time is precious, right?
Purpose was supposed to help me find peace. But I soon learned I had conflated purpose with an unforgiving definition of productivity.
I optimized time for purpose until it became a chase for perfection. There’s obviously nothing wrong with wanting perfection and productivity, but it does come with a caveat:
Can you handle yourself when perfect falls out of reach?
In this long list of goals, there was a designated space for everything to fit into — every decision, every win, every loss. Some people are great at turning life into systems and frameworks, but outside of work and my physical fitness journey, this approach wasn’t for me.
I have big, confusing, feelings that don’t always fit the boxes in front of me. I’m compelled to explore ideas and characters that appear to me in dreams and idle minutes spent staring blankly into space. Perfection fell out of reach often because there was so much that I wanted to include in my definition of it, and when I couldn't, it felt like I failed.
I enjoy spontaneity and find my creativity most comforted when firm roots touch the sky through messy tangles of long, intertwining branches. But I wasn't giving this honest side of myself an opportunity to discover who it could become.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t necessarily want to dictate all aspects of my life around outcomes that I can only reach with defined paths.
I want to keep the light within me bright, and sometimes, that means perching on a branch not because it’s the fastest way to get to the top, but because it catches the light just right when the sun shines.
This year, I learned that there is importance in the unimportant.
The minutes have been moving faster lately. The days have been getting shorter, the years that flow past blur together, and I find myself following the crowd, picking out moments to remember. We pick our favorites from our 365 days and condense them into highlights, numbers, pictures, and reels.
We look at our lives like a book, if you will. Our favorite novels (or movies) don’t detail the lives of their main characters every second they’re awake — only on days when a narrative takes shape. We don’t know if they brush their teeth every morning or if their back hurts when they roll out of bed. But based on what we read or see, we piece together an assumption of the thoughts running through their mind as they move from one chapter to the next.
I’ve learned that it’s easy to do the same with my own life. I remember time as a collection of highs and lows, good years and bad years.
But recently, I’ve been recalling fragments I can’t fit into the story I thought I knew.
I don’t know what’s prompting me to call on them, and I doubt they have any real significance to the dreams I hold now. These moments were simple but distinctively mine — not captured through any lens, yet they dance around my memory more than the captured moments do.
So, in 2024, I want to pay extra attention to the moments we like to label as mundane.
These are the threads of time that we think shine less brightly in the sun. Their colors paler, their voices softer, their weight on the palm of your hand seemingly lighter.
But these threads run long, and they don’t snap easily. They fall to the ground in climbing heaps, with no end in sight even if you put the edge to a flame to watch it slowly burn.
These moments are seemingly too unimportant, yet these are the moments that we find ourselves in the most — the moments where we’re at our most vulnerable, unguarded, unprepared. These threads of time flicker in the light, filled with uncertainty, powered by a source dependent on what unfolds around it.
These are the moments that make us human, that work consistently to build our perception of the world. They’re the routines we take for granted, the sights that slowly etch themselves in the back of our brains as we walk the same paths repeatedly.
These moments form our reasoning, understanding, compassion, and ignorance. I want to be certain of all of these things as I make my way through a world that waits for no one.
Wrapped in the softer falling petals of time, I want to give my ambition more room to breathe. I want to give myself space to work hard, grow, pause, and nurture my energy.
Here’s to a slower, more meaningful 2024.