A few days ago, after a walk with Lucy, I ate my lunch under a tree near my apartment. It was one of those perfect almost-Autumn days, and as I have for the past five-and-a-half years in New York, I watched life unfold around me. There was an old man who brought out a lawn chair and was sunbathing, some girls around my age talking up a storm (likely about the night before), a couple with their small baby and a snuggling two-some sneaking in kisses between the breeze.
And here I was, sitting awkwardly on my backpack, guilting myself for skipping an exercise class because I was tired, wondering when this guy that I met would text me back. As much as things have changed – and so have I – in all of this time, I still have to battle those same insecurities, regardless of how far I’ve come in my self-love journey. The park embodied so many of the things that I dream of having, and often times, I can count up the things I don’t have instead of taking stock in what I do. And though I can dream of the beautiful things I hope are before me, it’s hard to get past what’s in sight to believe in what you can’t see until it’s yours.
I turned over my iPhone and took a sip of water, rubbing my shoulders as the temperature started to drop, and I turned my attention on a kid’s birthday party. There was a grandfather with a toddler, laughing and chasing around each other until the babe accidentally let go of the red balloon she was holding. She started to cry, but her grandfather scooped her up and pointed to the sky.
I couldn’t hear what he said – I was too far away – but I imagine it was a distraction technique that somehow, piqued her interest away from a tantrum. The only thing was, all of the kids watched this happened and looked up…
…and they all let go of their balloons.
I could see the look of horror on the mom’s face, but the kids were happy – letting go of their colorful friends so they could fly away. And in that moment, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could treat my worries like those balloons? Hold onto them and then let them go, watch them make their way far, far away until I can’t see them anymore. Wouldn’t I feel more free? Calm? Myself?”
Tomorrow, on my 27th birthday, the official beginning of my late 20’s, I’ve decided I’m going to do just that: let my worries go. There are so many things I stress about that I have no control over, and its energy spent that could be better used doing, well, frankly, anything else but stewing.
I’m starting with these 27 things that I can’t – and won’t – worry about anymore:
When I’m going to meet my husband. As I’ve learned in painful detail over the past five years of writing this blog, I can’t speed it up or slow it down. I send him love and light every single day, without ever meeting him, and when he comes along, he will.
If I’ve truly ‘made it’ in NYC. Success isn’t defined by how many bylines I have, how big my apartment or savings account is, or if I’ve published a book by 30. It’s about how I feel about the things I did during the day at the end of every single day.
If I’m posting too many photos to Instagram. I’m pretty in love with my life and I love to share the experiences. #noshame
What will happen next week, next month or next year. I’ve known what I’ve wanted for most of my life, and now that I have most of those things, I can start just living and let life take it’s time.
If I have a thigh gap. It’s never going to happen, and me and my bodacious booty don’t mind one bit.
About how many friends I have. Instead, I’m focusing on the quality of the amazing men and women I have in my life.
What I’m doing Friday night. FOMO might have been a thing I’ve had in the past, but it’s easier to let go of that anxiety these days. Especially when taking a night in is sometimes better than forcing plans that frankly, won’t be that fun, anyway.
If he calls or texts me back. His loss. Next, please.
If my skin, teeth or body is perfect. I have a freckle on my left leg that I’ve always loved. I have a red spot above my nose that’s always been there. I have the first few signs of some wrinkles.. and ya know what? I’m so happy that I’ve lived so brightly that my face shows it.
If I’ll have enough money for the things I want. Life has a funny way of giving you what you need.
If he swipes yes to me. Dating apps? Forget ‘em. I’m going old school and taking a stance on real life interactions instead of digital delays that lead quickly to nowhere.
If anyone thinks I’m too picky, too sappy, too organized, too anything. Lovies, I’m just me and I make no excuses for it. Hopefully, you can love me despite of the good and the bad things that I am.
If I’m good enough. I’m definitely not perfect and I have my moments of selfishness, but overall, I like who I am – and maybe more importantly, who I’m becoming. I try my best to be the best daughter, puppy mom and friend I can be, and that has to be enough.
If I have enough hope. It’s okay to be cranky, upset and annoyed when you’re going through 20-something growing pains, so why give myself a hard time when I need a night (or ten) to let it all out?
If that plane ticket is worth the dip in my savings. It always, always is.
If I’ll be a mom. If women could get pregnant at any age, I don’t think anyone would rush to have children. But unfortunately, fertility is one of those things that doesn’t last forever. Luckily, modern science can help us single ladies out if the husband never arrives.
If I want to keep this blog going. A lot has changed over the five years I’ve been writing this blog, and sometimes I wonder what the next big idea is, what I want to write about next. I’ll know when it feels time to close this chapter.
If New York is the right place for me… and wondering if not, where is? If it’s time to leave the city I love, I’ll know when the time is right. And until then, there are still so many places, five years later, I have left to see in this crazy place.
If I’m loveable. Logically, I know I’m loved by so many people, but those silly voices that remind me that I’ve also been sans-boyfriend for the past four years make me wonder if some guy will ever fall in love with me. I can only be myself and hope someone will see how truly wonderful that is.
How much I weigh. I’ve spent the past year trying new exercises, and I’ve discovered just how powerful, strong and incredible my body can be. And sometimes, the weight you see isn’t reflective of how healthy you are, so why worry about the scale? Do I feel and look good? Yes. And that’s enough.
If my friends and I don’t agree on everything. We’re all changing, we’re all growing, we’re all figuring it out as we go, and a little disagreement is healthy.
If he likes me. Shouldn’t I be asking myself if I like him?
If I’m getting old. It’s odd to turn 27 – and I’m both nowhere near and miles ahead where I thought I’d be at this age. But I’d rather keep getting older than not have the chance to experience more of this beautiful life.
If things are happening on time… or if I’ll run out of it. It might not be on my own timeline, but the universe knows more than I do. (Or at least, I hope so.)
If I’ll sell a book. Something tells me that I haven’t discovered – or dreamed up – my biggest story yet. Something bigger tells me I’ll know it when I see it.
If I’m beautiful. An ex once told me not to smile with my teeth because I was prettier close-lipped. I say, screw ‘em.
If I’ll end up happy one day. Don’t we all fear that ultimately, we will look at our lives and not like what we see? But maybe it’s smarter to start creating the life you want instead of stressing that it isn’t a possibility? It is.