This is the only life you get: An unoriginal ode to my #Ridiculous26

Do you ever think you’re so much older than you ever thought you’d be? Maybe for you it comes down to working a 9 to 5 you never imagined and compromising the ideals of your youth or maybe it’s just the aches and pains of getting older you didn’t think were real. Perhaps it’s when you realize you won’t be young forever.

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As I enter the last year of my mid-20s, this is kind of where I am. I never realized how much I valued my youth and how it played into my identity until it occurred to me I won’t always be young. Revolutionary, right?

But really, think about it for a minute.

From the second we’re born, we’re young. We will spend years and years of saying ‘when I was a kid’ and adults will make some witty retort about how young we are now talking about when we were younger. You know the jokes I’m talking about. At some point, I’m not sure when, we lose our youth.

(seriously taking input now – when does that happen?!)

I spent the last year in a #QuarterLifeChelsea with plans to fully embrace my life instead of settling. This led to a month-long birthday celebration filled with parties and amusement parks and traveling and everything in between. I wanted to live as God called me, not as I saw fit. I felt like I was in the best place with the best people, and I didn’t want to miss a minute. I promised myself I wouldn’t quit my job or dye my hair any strange colors. I was ready.

Spoiler alert: I quit my job, moved to Buffalo, got my nose pierced and my hair is currently magenta. I like to think even if I didn’t adhere to my standards, I’m following God, which is top priority.

I thought I saw where my life was going, especially the next year. This has always been my problem, though. I tend to live in the years ahead of me instead of the right now.

Part of me wants to blame it on being an overachiever. All my life, I’ve been taught to push for more – more education, a better job, more stability, etc. Being here is not a luxury you can afford when you’re trying to make your life happen.

But most of me knows I find safety in plans and looking ahead instead of embracing the mess that is now because the future has to be better, right?

I spent exactly six months in Pittsburgh and six months in Buffalo, which by itself is pretty poetic. In Pittsburgh, I was content with my life. I knew my place. I thought I was growing but really I was just staying and fitting into the same roles. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it wasn’t good for me.

I felt a nagging to go that I ignored and God basically kicked me out of the Steel City which is fine, because like always He took care of me.

Going from everything I had to nothing and realizing I had to rebuild my life was so overwhelming. I didn’t automatically make friends and traveled to the point I felt disconnected. I missed my church and my friends and my life.

Suddenly, everything changed. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment. Maybe it’s when my pastor introduced me to some people and I felt like maybe I could make friends. Maybe it’s when my growth group started and we read Wonderlife and I learned it’s ok to be weird. Maybe it was my other group where I played volleyball and ultimate Frisbee and didn’t sit on the sidelines out of fear. I don’t know, but something definitely changed in me.

I left my 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. sleep schedule and decided some nights, it’s better to go on walks through the woods and swim when it’s way too cold. Even when I’m tired, staying up to text that new friend is totally worth it every minute of sleep you lose. Sometimes you need to drop your Friday night Netflix plans and go to your friend’s brother’s birthday party, even when you’ve never really hung out with this friend before. I think this is where life happens.

Too often I look to my expectations and future and miss the spectacular reality that is happening right now. I fall in love the hardest with my life when I simply live it and allow myself to be here now. When I go from place to place to place and allow new and strange adventures to occur. When I don’t let my fears control my heart.

With this forward thinking though, I fail to let myself develop. Instead of pursuing my dreams and things I want to do, I say ‘in another life’ and just accept, without question, it couldn’t be a part of this life. By the way, if you keep pushing those thoughts aside, you will never see the incredible things waiting for you now.

Why can’t I live the life I want now? I think in society sometimes we belittle these dreams and all assume we need this job, this item, this path, etc. until we forget there isn’t a law that says you have to stay in a job you hate because it’s stable and you have to stay in the same place because it’s settled.

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It’s technically wild orchid but you get the idea

That’s why I got my nose pierced and my hair is pink and I will continue to get tattoos. I will never stop writing even if it’s only the same four people who read my posts. I will most likely always linger too long after events, trying to squeeze the last bit of life I can out of every experience.

This brings me to here and now and #Ridiculous26, the theme for my next year of life. You see, I had the crisis, but now it’s time to live boldly. Ridiculous basically has a thousand different definitions, including amusing, absurd, laughable, idiotic, stupid, childish, outrageous, etc. It’s used to describe intense feelings or situations, covering the spectrum from terrible to amazing. You know what it isn’t? Sensible, serious and reasonable.

So now what? Thank you for reading so much about my personal growth, #blessed. Instead of ending on this great note, I am going to leave you with what I’ve learned and how I’m trying to view life now.

All we get in life are moments. So often times are hard and bad things happen or a situation doesn’t work out, but those results don’t invalidate what you felt before the bad news. In the midst of the stress and the chaos, we have incredible moments that remind us why we’re here and how beautiful life can be, even just for an instant.

Each moment of life creates an infinity, capturing a thousand different feelings like beauty and heartbreak and passion and longing and laughter. You realize you were created for moments like this and this is what it means to be fully present. You wish it would never end, that you could always be filled with so much that for a moment, you feel complete.

Don’t ruin a moment by thinking about what happens next. Don’t think about how early you have to wake up or how maybe this isn’t the best life choice. Don’t let your anxiety stop you from experiencing something incredible. We have the promise of God working for us, so all we can do is enjoy every moment between now and then knowing we will never get them back.

Live life for these moments. Forget work and responsibilities. Lose sight of the fact that maybe you’re too old to behave like this. Embrace who God created you to be in every situation because He made you loud/quiet/wise/silly/etc. for an amazing reason. Never lose sight of now for what might never be.

Sometimes you will fail in life and sometimes you will miss the moment because you’re too caught up in your head. This is ok! There will always be more moments asking to be experienced. Embrace them, whether you’re 16, 22 or 75.

Now I only regret the nights I went to bed and the texts I ignored and the situations I overthought until they ended. I can’t regret a moment that maybe led to heartbreak because for a time, it was absolutely perfect.

Sometimes (most of the time) I will say it seemed like a good idea at the time and that’s ok because I’ve had a lot of really good ideas in my life.

I don’t offer this because I’m perfect at living my life, but because like you, I’m not. I’m a miserable failure all the time and that’s 100 percent ok. Every day I’m trying to be better, and I hope you are too.

Be happy right now because right now is all you have. Here’s to #Ridiculous26.

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