Dear 23 year old me,
You have big shoes to fill.
I don’t say that to put unnecessary pressure on you. I’m saying this because my birthday is almost here and I can’t put it off any longer. Since I’m about to turn the page and blow out my 23 candles, I wanted to take a moment and implore you: Remember 22.
When I turned 22, things weren’t exactly going my way. In the days leading up to my birthday, the words, “I have high hopes for 22” were written in bright and beautifully permanent ink on the walls of my soul. I knew whatever happened in this year would be incredible – no matter what it looked like.
22 hit like a gust of wind and swept me into an era where things happened.
I got a dream job, moved, traveled, explored, and learned.
Looking back on 22, I realize I’m going to miss it. I learned amazing lessons and grew closer to the person I want to be in every year to come. Here’s a short list of lessons you need to take with you:
1) You can do this.
When independence was forced upon me at age 22, I was amazed at what I could accomplish. After figuring out what it looks like to be on my own and dealing with some crazy unexpected circumstances, I proved I can take on life’s next curveball. Stay calm in a crisis and take action when things need to be done. You have it in you.
2) People are important.
From the relationships I was forced to uproot, to the new camaraderie I’ve begun to cultivate, there’s nothing like true friendship. What an insane privilege it is to be able to say, “I can’t wait to see the people in my office each day.” How incredible an opportunity it is to learn about a new person and learn how to love them more like Jesus. “Thankful” isn’t a big enough word to describe how you feel about technology that allows communication with dear friends and family in other states – just like I never left. Keep loving and learning and experiencing Jesus through the people he’s placed around you.
3) Adventure is out there.
No matter where you are, there’s something incredible to explore. Adventure is always waiting to be found and breathed in. All you have to do is go. Take my word for it and just go. You’re happier when you do.
4) You are enough.
Not every lesson came from sunshine meadows and colorful daisies. 22 also marked the first time I genuinely felt undesirable. Somewhere in the midst of my early twenties, I allowed comparison and the opinion of men to dictate how I viewed myself.
At 22 it culminated each time I looked in the mirror. I never dreamed I could let my opinion of myself sink so low. I let my imperfections define me instead of the amazing qualities God has shaped within me. Just now, at the end of 22, I am dusting off the lies from this ditch in my path. Take this lesson with you into 23. Love yourself so you can better love others.
5) Words are powerful, but God’s Word is the end-all.
When people who hold my respect offer one encouraging word, my confidence level explodes to a new height. When a boy talks about how he likes certain physical features on women that I simply don’t have, it plummets.
I studied 1 and 2 Timothy at church in year 22. Countless times throughout these books, we saw how carefully Paul used his words and how often he charged Timothy to use words wisely.
Use your words wisely in 23. Encourage and speak truth. But also, don’t let opinions of those around you dictate how you feel about yourself. Always go to God’s Word to glean truth about yourself and the world around you.
6) Studying God’s Word is beautiful.
At 22, I took the time to discover more about the meaning of God’s Word. I joined a group to keep me going and gained community. It was beautiful! My challenge to you, year 23, is this: Don’t let this stop. You can do this on your own, too. Life is fuller, more clear, and you grow as a person. God is glorified. Don’t go backwards. Keep studying.
7) There is always hope.
At 22, I saw third-world poverty for the first time. Social media has been ridden with horrendously confusing events. Every time these situations made me feel hopeless, I was brought back to my God. He was there every time saying, “I’ve got this. I am hope. I am fixing this. You and the people in each circumstance are part of something greater. Stand your ground where hope can be found and trust me.”
So, 23, don’t be intimidated. I may be a little bit emotional about letting 22 be archived into a past memory, but I’m beyond excited to see what you hold within your constructs of minutes, seconds, and hours.
What will fill them? I didn’t know at 22 either, but I decided to trust God with it. So, I’m doing the same for you, 23. Let’s do this.