It's been a minute. My last post was a ode to taking risks and doing things that scare you, and mainly it was a pep-talk to myself about getting back into theater. Which, I did. And it was wonderful. I still haven’t really grasped what performing has brought back to life in me - but I know that it awakened something, and I celebrate that.
But this blog isn’t about that.
Today is the last day of 27. This year was one of the best years yet. And it was also one of the worst.
And that’s the general conclusion I’ve come to about my mid-late twenties. It’s the best, and also the worst.
There were some high highs. I look back at some parts of this year with a tremendous fondness and warmth. Getting back on stage. Moving up in my career. Breakthrough moments in my walk with God. Nights spent with friends laughing our butts off. Feeling energized creatively for the first time in awhile. Reconnecting with family in ways that I thought were off the table.
On a deeper, more personal level, I feel like am more self-aware after this year. My understanding of who “Lauren” is feels more secure and grounded. And isn’t that all we can hope for? To grow each year in the knowledge of who you are as a person?
But there were also some low lows this year. Part of becoming who you actually are is having to shed the things that you’re not, and for me that’s hard. I am a creature of comfort. Of habit. Saying “no” to things that felt easy to me was difficult. Saying “goodbye” to things and people that I felt connected to was challenging. To unhealthy relationships. To dreams I had for my life. To ideals I’ve held with an iron fist. That process wasn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes saying “no” or “goodbye” led to greater “yeses” and for that I am thankful. But while there was great payoff for some of the “nos," there was great pain for others. And that’s the tension I’m living in now.
I think the biggest lesson I learned in my 27th year of life was that I am my own worst enemy. My ex-therapist and I discovered that I tell myself things about myself that aren’t necessarily true and label them fact. She helped me figure out that I’ve tethered my beliefs about my character and personality on statements made by others that might not be reality.
Because yes, I am fierce. I am fiery. I am loud. I am confident. I am a chatter-box. I am prideful. I am blunt. I am strong.
But I can also be soft. I can be gentle. I can be caring. I can be thoughtful. I can be warm. I can be affectionate. I can be delicate.
I can be all of those things because none of those things are mutually exclusive. I am a kaleidoscope of a person. We all are.
This year, I began the work of shedding the notion of “black and white” and “this or that” for the messy, complicated, beautiful reality of “either/or” and “both/and.” Sure, I’m still a realist at heart but I’m more moveable, more malleable. I know that nothing is too deep-seeded that it can’t change. I am me, yes, but I can always change and grow and learn.
Each year around my birthday I read this essay by my favorite author Shauna Niequist about being in your twenties. She says:
"For a while in my twenties I felt like I woke up a different person every day, and was constantly confused about which one, if any, was the real me. I feel more and more like myself with each passing year, for better and for worse, and you’ll find that, too. Every year, you will trade a little of your perfect skin and your ability to look great without exercising for wisdom and peace and groundedness, and every year the trade will be worth it. I promise.”
These words always reorient me. This year in particular, it seems like I traded things that cost me a lot. And maybe sometime in my 28th year I’ll see the fruit of that, or maybe I won’t. But the beauty is in the idea that I did something. I made a choice. I leaned into the tension of life because that’s all you can do.
Happy (almost) birthday to me!