My birthday was as wonderful and amazing as it could have been, and I felt so blessed to share the celebration with my closest friends and family. This may have been more relevant to write about immediately after I turned twenty-one; looking back, however, it was the simple kick-start to the emotional growth spurt that I've gone through in the time between then and now. I have experienced and learned so much in three weeks, and I haven't felt this good, more specifically, this free, in a very long time.
I was told that I wouldn't feel that much older afterward, which was true. On the other hand, it was though my confidence level spiked tremendously; I have no problem asking people if they want to get together for drinks later or over the weekend, rather than beating around the bush about going out between seven and ten o'clock (if you're underage, that's when people usually hit up the bar scene, and most of your options are limited to the crazy nightclubs). It's perfectly normal to casually go out for dinner and a cocktail after I get out of class on a Thursday night. There's no longer an age separation between my friends and I, so that opens up new doors for all of us.
When you're not limited, you'd be surprised at what you can discover; whether that involve new things to try, or even just about yourself.
There was a time where I overdid it, to the point of physical sickness and exhaustion. It kind of felt like freshman year all over again, where everything is so new and you don't know what to do with the majority of it. I was caught between being a kid in a candy store and a tiger that had just been let out after being locked up in a cage for so long.
Yet, emotions also played a role; I was on this type of high that I tend to get during my birthday, and I was determined to keep that going. I constantly wanted to be on-the-go, with my friends, and afterward be able to say that it was one of the best nights/experiences of my life.
Unfortunately, that attitude did not serve me well. In turn, my anxiety levels sky-rocketed and my already active imagination went into overdrive. I feared being forgotten about and/or abandoned, so I frequently texted people about what were doing, never failing to include a "make sure you..." type of disclaimer. My insecurities were out in full force.
Which led me to the decision to cut an incredibly dear but dysfunctional relationship out of my life, one where a lot of my fears and insecurities stemmed from. It was a Saturday and my immune system was running on empty due to lack of sleep and not really taking care of myself. As I was basically turning my stomach inside out in the bathroom, I vividly remember hearing a voice say to me "If you want to have real love in your life, you have got to let him go." It may have been God, or my own conscience surrendering to the fact that my continuing to try and hold onto this person was getting in the way of being completely in the present. Either way, it was time.
And while it was bittersweet, it has given me a lot of clarity in terms of what kind of people I want to have in my life, along with what I'm able to give and take. Call me fortunate to be understanding of this lesson at my age, but I don't want relationships where I'm constantly digging for some indication that a person is worth keeping around. In other words, stop clinging to the hope that one day he/she will get themselves together and start treating you with love and respect afterward. Let those people go and give thanks for those that are already doing that.
This had led me to practice being more patient, and cherishing the time that I do get to spend with those that matter to me. I can either work myself up and worry about running out of time, or accept the simple reality that sometimes things happen. I can try to plan or predict my future, or take my present circumstances at face value and just go with it.
Being legal is so much more than just going out late at night or having the ability to buy alcohol on my own. There are times to have fun, and then there are times where a line must be drawn and boundaries must be set. I have gained an incredible perspective, and while I don't know what exactly is next for me, I'm learning to trust that God will put me exactly where He wants me to be.
Sometimes having faith is better than having a plan, because at this moment all I'm meant to know is that I'm moving in one direction: forward.