21 → 22
I've never been a big fan of birthdays. No scratch that, I've never been a big fan of my birthday. The anticipation and pressure to have it be any different than another day has never made much sense to me (with the exception of a few milestone ages). I never know if I'm supposed to plan the birthday celebrations, or if someone else is expected to. I spend the majority of the day refreshing my Facebook notifications to see what strangers from high school feel compelled to post on my wall. Being sung to in a public place is my worst nightmare and I am awfully awkward at receiving gifts.
Grievances aside, my birthday has always been a time for reflection, much more so than New Year's ever has. June 1st always symbolized the end of a school year. The beginning of a summer. A much more satisfying opening and closing to an era or story than January 1st.
21 came with a lot of firsts...
- I flew alone for the first time.
- I got a tattoo for the first time.
- I sang karaoke for the first time.
- I hired an intern for the first time.
- I rode in an Uber for the first time.
- I went to Germany for the first time.
- I accepted a job offer for the first time.
- I endured a bikini wax for the first time.
- I became politically active for the first time.
- I learned to love sour beers for the first time.
- I lived in Manhattan, New York for the first time.
- I spoke as a guest on a podcast for the first time.
- I cut off at least ten inches of hair for the first time.
- I went to and got drunk at a wedding for the first time.
- I worked professionally with a celebrity for the first time.
- I presented academic research and work for the first time.
- I tried authentic (not microwavable) ramen for the first time.
- I thoroughly enjoyed an industry conference for the first time.
- I did special effects makeup for a student film for the first time.
- I felt valued for my skills as a web programmer for the first time.
- I moved into an apartment that truly felt like home for the first time.
Lasts are a funny thing. There is less definity. I can't tell you with certainty what lasts occurred during my 21st year.
Why? Well, I'm not dead yet.
I can't tell you I went to my last college class. What if I decide to go to grad school?
I can't tell you I lived in Ithaca for the last time? What if I decide to work there someday?
I can't tell you I danced on a platform at the Moonshadow Tavern for the last time? (But let's be real, I'll be back).
What I'm trying to say here in the least cliche way possible is, that life is unpredictable. Obviously.
I'm only two months into 22 and I can tell you freshly 21 year old Bridget never would have predicted what the following year had in store. I threw my "5 Year Plan" out the window. I took the biggest risk of my life. I'm still trying to figure out if it is paying off. People keep asking how I'm doing, and rightfully so. I left everyone and everything I held dear. I moved to a country with cultural differences and a significant language barrier. I took an extremely technical and analytical position at a major corporation. I now live in a city in which I know absolutely no one.
Just typing that out makes me question my sanity.
I don't have an answer to "how are you?" yet. This transition, independence, and first few months of adulthood have been tough, really tough. I am trying extremely hard to fight every ounce of depression and anxiety to stay positive and make the most of this experience. Being in a bad place mentally usually means I'm slowly molding to my bed or couch watching an unreal amount of content on Netflix. I can tell I've changed my coping mechanisms as of late because I've gotten out and started exploring. (Yes I am chalking this up to mental health improvement and not the fact that I don't have internet yet so I couldn't binge watch even I wanted to). So I guess my answer is, "I'm okay," but stayed tuned.
There is so much uncertainty in my future, but I can tell you that 22 → 23 will have a mountainous list of firsts.
Good and bad ones.