The barista at my favorite coffee shop only knows me as the girl with the cool band t-shirts who comes in for a muffin and a few hours clicking away at a keyboard. I like the girl that he sees. I’d like to be known as her. That is what 26 feels like. No clue what’s going on. No closer to figuring it out than I was when I graduated college. But wearing cool clothes and eating good food in a city that lets me breathe.
And who ever told me it should look any different? Ah, yes. It was the wedding invitations lining my fridge. And the engagement photos of someone I used to love. It was the occasional “she might be a lesbian” chatter I heard about myself. Solely because I hadn’t brought a boy home for Christmas. And it was the pitied glances from the gals with two rings on their hand.
In January of this year, I felt a real pull towards the word “power”. More so, agency, but the word power just stuck with me. I turned 26 in March on a rooftop drinking aged whiskey, wearing a shirt straight out of a decade I wasn’t even around for. Literally on top of the world.
Quarantine started that very same week and the word “power” was long forgotten.
It was replaced with words like “lonely”. I gave up the idea of taking back any sort of power and just focused on surviving and not eating too many peanut butter m&m’s. I didn’t quite know how to articulate any of my feelings, so I didn’t. I really didn’t write or journal or read. I just sort of let myself be whatever it was that I needed to be. I prayed a specific prayer every day, too. It was sort of out of desperation. All I kept saying was “please don’t let 26 be all there is. Please don’t let this place be where I have to stay.” Because I genuinely thought that God might leave me at single, uninspired, uncool, unmotivated, moody and barely making enough money to cover my bills for forever.
And what a very weird life it would be if I had to stay there forever.
I just knew I’d be there for forever.
I don’t remember what day it was that I felt different. It wasn’t that anything about my personal situation changed. But I do remember that I started feeling good. I started finding new rhythms. Adding Van Morrison to playlists. Spending days reading every single publication about Queen I could find. I deleted dating apps because they made me feel like shit. I put new art on my walls. And I stopped letting my brain space be absolutely confined by thoughts of my worthlessness without a husband.
I felt weak so I started boxing. And it is the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. Every time I put on my gloves I’m fighting the lies. Detoxing every bad thought I’ve ever had about myself.
That it’s too late.
That I’m not enough.
That I’m stuck.
That I can’t change my circumstances.
I don’t know what changed. But I am less afraid of being “single, uninspired, uncool, unmotivated, moody and barely making enough money to cover my bills for forever.”
I made a list of all of the things I can do because I’m single. And that list includes a WILD myriad of things that I never thought were possible.
Because I was just waiting for my circumstances to change. I never realized I could change them myself. I never realized I could create a life that would feel R E A L L Y good, because I thought I needed someone else to do that with.
And I thought that someone else not wanting me would be my downfall.
But here’s the thing, I want me. I like me.
I like the version of me in an old t-shirt scribbling mindlessly. I like the version of me I see when I take off my gloves and my hands are bleeding. I like the version of me who doesn’t feel like she needs to be cool anymore.
I like that I’m dreaming. More so, I like that I’m strong enough to say that those dreams aren’t just of babies and a white dress.
I like that I made a list of things I can only do by myself. Because dang it, I can do those things. I can do hard things. I can do good things.
I can do things right here in this place that I thought was lackluster for so long.
I can see clearly now that it’s not lackluster. It’s actually just filled with a lot of blank walls that me and God can color all over together.
Space to dream.
I’m praying less for God to send me a husband these days.
I’m praying more for God to send me an adventure. Something just for me.
I think wherever you are is the perfect place to start. To start scraping together tidbits of beautiful things to make a version of yourself that you like enough to eventually love.
And then start dreaming. Because it’s honestly a whole lot of fun.
It’s not lackluster- it’s a blank canvas.