Sunday, May 16, 2010

Goodbye, 23

11:03 pm, Sunday, May 16th. My last post as a 23 year old. I'm writing it listening to Robbie Williams, and I've just turned off the television, since there's so very little I'm interested in. I pay too much for cable, to keep my grandmother entertained, but I rarely put in the effort to see what's actually on the channels I pay too much for.

23 was such a strange year. I changed so much. It was a good year overall, great really. But from the way it started, one wouldn't expect it to go that way. I lost two jobs right at the start, I spent an obscene amount of time unemployed, and I felt pretty alone. And then I decided this was not okay any more. And that got me on the path that got me that license. And then I got The Job. And I made friends. Have dated. Am dating. It's all a bit surprising, but it's also way better than 22.

24 has so much promise for me. I'll be in school, I'll have my internship, I'll still be at Preble Street, I'll be retiring from subbing, and I finally came out about wanting an apartment for the fall so hopefully the ball will get rolling there soon. I have faith. Wherever we end up in life, whatever happens, that's what needs to happen in the grand timelines and plans of our lives. And that's pretty fucked up coming from someone that works in a homeless shelter, I realize. But that's a place where I gain all my strength, taking it in from the wonderful people I work with, seeing how they persist, and taking in their stories as my motivation to change the world. I see hundreds of people a day, but there are so many that I know I'll never forget, like the gentleman that keeps three journals of the inspirational words of others, so that when he one day gets his kids back, he'll have this wisdom to pass on to them. Or the people that, despite their circumstances, are always full of happiness and joy. I try to make sure they all know how much they mean to me and how much I enjoy them. I think a lot of them know. I get a lot of comments about how I'm people's favorite or how I'm good at what I do or how nice it is to have me there. When my favorites get housed, I always have an awkward conversation about how this is gonna come out wrong, but I'll miss seeing them around. I think I got one guy damn near misty-eyed with that one. It's true. Just like I'll never forget my "surrogate daughter" from my 6 months as a teacher, I will never forget so many people here. Whether they're teaching me Spanish, commenting about how they love my style, or just chatting with me for a few minutes, they add so much to my life that I try to repay in whatever little way I can, whether that's wearing neon colored outfits I know they get a kick out of, checking in about a job interview I know they had, or greeting them by name. So, maybe some of these people pass through my doors just to give me something to draw on and to help me ground myself and figure out who it is I want to be and what it is I want to do. I love my role as the unofficial sunshine girl of the shelter. Sometimes if I need to hang around later for something I don't bother putting it on my time card if I'm already over my allowed hours, because whatever, I'd hang out and chat anyways.

I was scared to turn 23. It felt like I had done so little with 22 that now I was getting a little older and it was getting a little sadder that I still hadn't gotten my shit together. I am not scared to be 24. I will enjoy it and embrace it. I will continue what I started recently of pushing myself and challenging myself, socially, emotionally, psychologically. I take every day as an opportunity to do something that makes me a little more of a well-rounded person. Last night that was going to a new bar instead of the one my friend and I always go to. We sat in leather highback chairs drinking chocolate martinis. It was the highlight of my day. Other little big-deal experiences have been getting my piercing, choosing to go to a concert/benefit instead of knit night, going to a party and meeting new people, coercing myself into making small talk with whoever I ended up sitting next to at the bar. I appear to have gained a partner from the latter, so certainly, whatever decisions I started making halfway through 23 have been working out well. I have always been shy, nervous, socially reticent. I am choosing to change that.

I can't say what 24 will bring. No one can. I didn't know what 23 would. I hoped, certainly, I'd get a job, finally get my license, make a friend. That's all I wanted. Just one person that kind of liked me that once in a while maybe I might meet up with to see a movie. I've been more than blessed in that regard, and it's one way that 23 turned out so much better than I could have ever imagined. I can't even imagine what 24 will bring. There's so much opportunity, thanks to my impending educational plans. I have great faith, it's going to be a special year for me.

My aunt, who was initially against my attending graduate school, and who raised an eyebrow when I bought a USM window cling for my car ("why don't you go and see if you like it first?") bought me a USM t-shirt, coffee mug, and water bottle. It's starting to click how important this is for me and how proud I am for myself.

Pride. That's a major change and improvement in my life. I recognize the work I put into getting into graduate school, especially considering how I applied before even having my job at Preble Street that would give me better experience that would make my application more attractive, and I recognize what I'm about to do and the gravity of it. I think I deserve a lot of respect for it, and the fact that I'm not brushing it off as no big deal says a lot about how my self-worth has improved since 22.

I got a sweet text today, after I mentioned how someone was always nice to me. "You are adored by all, Jenna." I know this person is into me, but my reaction to it wasn't simply "tee hee, someone likes me," but actually feeling like I not only believed it, but I already knew it. It's not the first time I've heard it, after all. I know I'm valued at my workplace, by my clients, by my coworkers (I'm often told how I do a good job with the clients and that means the world to me), and I know I'm valued by my friends, and I know I'm valued by my partners. It is no longer surprising that people I encounter like me. I expect it. I'm at a very good place in my life and exuding confidence, and I think people are finally picking up on it.

I do treat my birthday like it's a national holiday, and maybe I'm a little old for that, but it's nothing I'd ever change. I finally value myself, and if a birthday is the one day out of the year where you should be the most self-involved, then I will be very happy to carry myself with a swagger tomorrow and find ways of working it into conversation. A birthday is about being special. It just so happens that I finally feel special on the other days of the year, as well.

I find myself continually surprised by who I am. In a relationship with a new partner, I am catching myself having potential to fall into the "let's spend every possible waking moment together" trap that I created in college. I know that didn't work, and I know it made me an awful friend, and so I look to avoid it now, by keeping myself from being slavishly devoted to one person, insisting on girl-specific time, and not giving myself to the idea that once I find a person that likes me, that is certainly the only person in this geographic area that ever could, so I better do everything I can to keep them interested, even if there's other things I want to do. I was scared to date again, having been out of that world for a while, but I see now that the time I took to myself helped me figure out what I was doing wrong and gave me the time I needed to grow up. And that's what 24 will be for me. Continuing to grow and improve upon the facets that needed work. But right now, I'm not seeing too much that I'm doing wrong. Little by little, I've been becoming a functional, well-rounded adult, who appears to have a remarkable control over her life and emotions.

Perhaps this is nothing to be too proud of, and perhaps "no longer being a hot mess" isn't a major accomplishment, but for me, I feel like I've reached this Zen plane where I am just totally okay with who I am and where I am in life. I know I'm doing things right. I know I've made the right choices, and I trust myself to continue to make the right decisions, no matter how complicated or potentially messy. This is a vast improvement over my previous "I do everything wrong" and "I'm a fuck up" schema. No. I'm doing awesome and I'm really great at being Jenna.

What a bizarrely introspective entry. I haven't even been drinking tea (and I have five new Teavana teas and a fantastic infuser mug, birthday presents) or walking in the woods, times which I tend to contemplate the meaning of life, or at least, the meaning of mine.

12:01 am, Monday, May 17. I am 24. And I am happy.


Goes by the name of Anna said...

Happy birthday, birthday buddy! May 17th for the win!

I'm so glad that you're happy with where you're at. There's really nothing that feels as good as feeling satisfied with how you're going, like you're making progress, pushing your boundaries a bit, and knowing you're improving (happy to say I'm in the same boat, in my own way). You are doing awesomely. I'm torn between admiration and happiness that you're doing so well and (very mild) jealousy that you're excelling at so many of the same things that I am as-yet still aspiring to!

Enjoy 24 - I hope it's as marvellous as you deserve!

Teresa said...

Wow! You certainly have changed a lot since I have known you as an internet friend. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments. I knew you could do it!

24 is going to be so wonderful for you! (It was also my most exciting year!)

Have fun in grad school!