That’s how old I turned last week. That means I’m now firmly planted in my mid-twenties. It also means I’m going to go through the inevitable quarter life crisis.
I’m only joking (sort of). But as is the case with every birthday you can’t help but reflect on the last year of your life. What did I accomplish? What could I have done differently? Did I learn anything? Was I happy? These are all questions that have crossed my mind over the last week as I’ve adjusted to life as 25 year old. My 24th year of life was filled with a lot of adventures and unique experiences. It was also filled with a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and doubts. It’s hard to wrap my head around just how much happened in one year. I went through so many different emotions in the last year. I had some of my highest highs and some of my lowest lows of my life. Let me tell you about it!
If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning you’ll know that I’ve found myself in these funks where I feel empty and lost. I’m going through the motions day by day not really sure where I’m going or what’s next. My energy is gradually drained and I fall into a pit of laziness and apathy. What made it all the more frustrating was that I knew I was capable of more. I wanted to make a difference in the world but I didn’t know how. And so I would do nothing.
This was especially evident with my job. For the most part I enjoyed my job. It was fun at times and I really enjoyed my coworkers. I worked in a college athletics department where I essentially was paid to watch sports. On the surface it wasn’t a bad gig. But in reality I felt completely unfulfilled. I didn’t feel like I was helping people in any meaningful way, nor did I feel like I was really growing as a person because of it. I felt stuck.
On top of that I had friends who were doing really incredible, exciting things. They were getting new jobs, getting engaged/married, moving to new cities. I was so happy for each of my friends as they experienced all these awesome things. But I also couldn’t help but think “When will it be my turn?” I know that makes me sound super petty and ungrateful. But the truth is that I was jealous and selfish. I won’t deny that. I was miserable in my job and all I wanted was a sign that there was something better for me on the horizon. I asked God constantly for something, anything. I wanted Him to just provide me with all the answers without me putting in the work. My faith and trust in God was shaken at times throughout this past year. I know I sound really dramatic but that’s what I felt when I got into these funks. I wanted God to snap His fingers and change everything.
It didn’t help that seemingly all my friends were moving away. That just added to my self pity. I would ask God, “Why are you taking them away from me?” As an immature 24 year old I was stuck in the past, not wanting my friends to move on to better things. Again, I was incredibly selfish. As a result of that I took my other friends who were still in STL for granted. I didn’t appreciate them nearly as much as I should have and I was a bad friend because of it. In hindsight I didn’t celebrate my friends’ accomplishments like a true friend should. That was the jealousy in me taking over. I felt sorry for myself.
So yeah, this past year was pretty rough at times. But it was also filled with some of the most unique and amazing experiences of my entire life.
It started with moving into an apartment with one of my best friends growing up, Ross. We had been talking about getting a place together for a few months and finally settled on a place in September. It’s been nothing short of awesome. Knowing that I have such a great friend to hang out with whenever we’re both home together (which is has been rare lately) is really cool. And it’s helped me learn how to be more independent as an adult, which, you know, is important I guess.
In October I ran my first marathon with my friend Emma. While I regret how I trained (or didn’t train, rather) I don’t regret doing it one bit. I pushed myself through the pain and finished, despite basically walking the last eight miles. I could have quit at any time but I wasn’t going to let that happen. I finished and I’m really proud of that.
In January I went on a mission trip to El Salvador and had one of the best weeks of my life. I went on my first flight ever, met so many amazing people, and learned so much about love. Barely a day goes by that I’m not reminded of El Salvador and my time there. I had doubts before going but I’m so, so glad I didn’t let those doubts keep me from an experience of a lifetime.
In February I started writing this blog. Never in my life did I think I’d write a blog. What would I write about? Five months later it turns out I have quite a bit to write about. This blog has become a sanctuary of sorts for me, a place I can go to reflect and appreciate the blessings I have in life. This is been a much needed uplifting tool for me as I’ve gone through my funks.
In March I became an uncle to the most amazing niece. Having Lily in my life has been such a source of happiness and joy. She has very quickly become one of my favorite people in the world. If you want to know more about how much I love her you can read my previous post!
In April I got a new job. I left my job at Lindenwood after three years to become a Sports Director at a YMCA. After months and months of agonizing waiting and broken patience, a job I love finally presented itself. The three months there so far have been nothing short of fantastic. I love the people I work with, and most importantly, I love what I’m doing. After feeling unfulfilled at my previous job I now feel like I’m finally putting my God given talents to good use.
Sprinkled throughout the year were a lot of other really incredible experiences. Retreats, trips, time spent with friends, and so much more. I made so many unbelievable memories this year, memories that I’ll never forget.
Back to those questions I asked earlier…
Did I accomplish anything? Absolutely. I did things this year I never thought I’d do. I ran a marathon, went to El Salvador, and started a blog. I went through a lot of changes, too. I moved into an apartment and started a new job. There were many times throughout the year I felt stuck and complacent, times I felt like the people around me were passing me by. After a little bit of reflection I’ve realized just how much I’ve done in a pretty short period of time.
Would I have done anything differently? Oh, definitely. I wish I would have taken more time to appreciate the little things. I feel like I lived this past year big moment to big moment. I’d have this big life experience and hope that it would sustain me long enough until the next one. I think that definitely contributed to the funks I went through. I thought those highs from those experiences would last forever, and so I wouldn’t make an effort to fully enjoy the everyday moments. It’s sad to think about the intricate things I missed because I was too busy waiting for “the next big thing.”
Did I learn anything? You bet I did. I learned that I have some truly special people in my life. I’ve always known that I have some really amazing friends and family surrounding me but this year reminded me of that. I was continuously blown away by the support of the people around me as I went through my struggles. The number of conversations I had with close friends about my lack of fulfillment in my career is impossible to count. Despite my doubts in my faith at times, I had friends there to remind me that there’s nothing more important than a strong relationship with God. I met so many new people and got to know friends on an even deeper level. I’m surrounded by people that want to not only see me succeed, but help me feel alive. And I take them for granted all the time. When I look back at this year I realize that nothing would be the same without the people who were there with me. The accomplishments I’ve talked about would be meaningless without my friends and family.
Was I happy? Not always, and that’s okay. Expecting to always be happy is unrealistic. I’ll be honest, I had some pretty down times over the last year where my self confidence was low. There were plenty of times I wasn’t happy. With that being said, this was also one of the happiest years of my entire life. Like I’ve been saying, I did so many new, exciting things that made me feel alive and brought me true joy. I created so many happy memories this year, memories that years from now will overshadow the funks I went through.
I think that’s the biggest takeaway from this last year. I struggled with a lot of different things but that’s not what I’m going to remember down the road. Instead, I’ll remember the exhilaration of crossing the finish line of my first marathon. I’ll remember playing soccer with the kids in El Salvador. I’ll remember typing my first blog post. I’ll remember the first time I held Lily. I’ll remember my first day at the YMCA. So when my kids someday ask me how my 24th year on earth was I’ll tell them with 100% certainty that it was one of the happiest years of my life.
My quarter life crisis might be right around the corner but I’m ready for it. Year 24 prepared me well for whatever life might throw my way and I know that I’ve got the best people in the world and an all-loving God behind me every step of the way. If year 25 is anything like year 24 I’ll be one happy dude.