Thoughts as I approach 25…

Image Credit: LFSMusings

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything other than a book review. As my 25th birthday approaches and I reflect on what 24 brought me, I decided to take some time to acknowledge what’s been going on and what I’ve learned.

As you probably know from my previous blog, I successfully passed my qualifying exam. What does this mean? I am officially a doctoral candidate and research is in full gear. I am spending long hours in the lab and usually devote a portion of my weekend to catching up on reading papers and checking experiments. The stress of the exam is gone, but now I am in the race to get data and publish… so life hasn’t really slowed down.

What’s up with the picture for today’s post? My parents came to visit! They usually come for my birthday, but this year it worked out that they came a few weeks earlier. To encourage my bookish lifestyle, they gifted me a Kindle Paperwhite! It is easily the greatest thing I own (aside from my laptop that contains my entire life).

I’ve taken a pretty long break from adoption/human rights advocacy. I have been focusing on myself super hard. Sometimes it gets lonely. I won’t lie. There are days when I get home from work and realize I only had actual conversations with actual humans for a few minutes of my day and that’s it. It’s a bit freeing too. I go to restaurants alone and have no problem with it. Now, I just whip out my Kindle and enjoy a nice meal and a good book. I don’t feel like I need to have a companion with me everywhere I go. Seeing a movie alone? Amazing. I don’t have to share my snacks with anyone.

That’s what I’m thankful for. I regained my independence pretty quickly. I wasn’t financially dependent so separating my life and being single again was logistically pretty easy. Of course, having friends and family supporting me along the way was a major blessing.

Mental health wise I struggled. I still struggle. My adoptee brain doesn’t help with that either. There are many days where I look in the mirror and question what’s wrong with me…

“Why am I so unwanted”

It takes a lot of work to get out of that mindset. I often feel like a hypocrite. I encourage people to own their stories and identities. I urge people to not take BS from anyone. Yet, here I am. Stuck in my own mind. Allowing someone else to determine my worth.

I’ve always been more of an “old soul” compared to my peers… the mature, responsible one that keeps everyone in line and keeps the day organized. 25 is definitely not old, but I look back on everything that has happened and I think about how I am just too old to be dealing with this s*&^. The events in my life may have aged me, but they also taught me that life is too short to deal with unhealthy situations. I may be confused about my racial and cultural identity, but I am sure that I am kind and intelligent.

I am also now sure that I played no role in what has happened to me. I didn’t choose to be relinquished by my first family. I didn’t choose to be abandoned by a fiancé. I am done feeling guilt and regret for other people’s actions. I am working towards being able to look in the mirror without asking, “What’s wrong with me today?”.

I have no idea when I will return to advocacy. I still can’t imagine filming myself and helping others when I don’t really have a clue about what I’m doing in life. It’s hard when people reach out asking for advice… I want to look at them and say, “Really? You’re asking me? Do you not see how my life has spiraled over the last eight months?”.

25 is still young, but honestly it feels like I’ve already dealt with a lifetime of garbage. So, what’s my advice? What have I learned?

Value yourself. No, don’t let anyone else decide what you’re worth, how smart you are, how beautiful you are, and whether or not you are worthy of love. You are. So find someone who doesn’t need to be convinced of those things.

Hold onto your strengths. Especially as a WOC, strengths are often seen as threats. Surround yourself with people who value what you have to offer and who are willing to support you. Friends, family, and partners should strive to help you grow into a better person, not strip you of all of the qualities that scare them.

Try spending time alone. I mean really alone. Go to that movie you want to see by yourself. Be that “weirdo” that brunches alone. Discover everything you can do on your own and when you have people to keep you company, recognize that you don’t need them to still be okay.

Forgive yourself. My adoptee brain doesn’t let this happen often. I am a fixer and perfectionist. When things go wrong, I immediately take the blame for them. I apologize for things I did not do or could not change because deep down I think that somehow, I must be responsible. Stop that. You aren’t responsible. You cannot change the past, so focus on keeping yourself healthy and strong.

And the last bit of advice? You will never be liked by everyone. In fact, you will probably piss off some people along the way. I like to think that means you’re doing something right. What do you do when you can’t please everyone?

Be unapologetically yourself.