For the past two years, I’ve documented my year month-by-month, assigning the emotion I was feeling most strongly to each month. I thought it might be fun to document my twenties in the same way, which meant I had to dig through my blog’s archives and my own memories to figure out exactly what happened each year and how I was feeling. It was an interesting experience, helping me to see just how damn far I’ve come in ten years. I can’t believe that ten years ago, I was a scared college student who thought she was meant to be an elementary school teacher. How times have changed, eh?
When I was 20, I was stressed out.
I was studying to be an elementary school teacher, which involved three different internships in elementary classrooms. During my last internship, in the fall of 2008, my internship coordinator met with me in the middle of the day to tell me I wouldn’t pass. I needed to get my things and leave. It was heartbreaking and scary and I didn’t know what to do. I was the good student! I had always made Honor Roll or Principal’s List. I wasn’t the kind of person who failed things, and yet here I was, tearfully calling my mom to tell her I had failed at something and I didn’t know what to do next.
When I was 20, I became an aunt for the first time when my nephew J was born. This was also the last time I saw my dad face-to-face, when he came to my small 20th birthday celebration.
When I was 21, I was at peace.
After some soul searching and spending time by myself, I decided to change my major from elementary education to journalism. My heart wasn’t in teaching; it was in writing. I started over from scratch, taking pre-requisite courses on the art of journalism before being accepted into the College of Journalism and Media Studies at USF in the spring.
I adopted a dog this year, a nearly seven-year-old miniature dachshund named Dutch. I didn’t know he would become my entire world, but he did.
My mom and I ended up downsizing to a much smaller apartment. We were living above our means and needed something more affordable. We found a one-bedroom with a den and it was probably half the size of our old apartment.
When I was 22, I was focused.
My whole world was taken up by my journalism schooling and my part-time job at a daycare. When I wasn’t working, I was either in class, studying, writing papers, or publishing posts to my new-ish blog. (This one!)
This was the year I wrote a letter to my father, effectively ending our relationship. And it was the year my mom was hit by a car while running – truly the scariest moment of my life.
When I was 23, I was anxious.
I graduated from college this year, but the last semester of college was so anxiety inducing that I probably should have been on meds (in fact, I was so anxious that I got shingles purely from stress.)
As a graduation present, my mom and I went on a five-day cruise and it forever changed my life.
A few months after graduating, I accepted a position as a marketing assistant at a direct marketing company. The pay wasn’t great, but it would get my foot in the door (and get me out of the daycare I was working at!)
A few weeks after starting the job, one of my coworkers was fired. We were a small company of just 10 people, so the aftereffects were felt by everyone. After that, I was so anxious and scared about being fired myself. Every time my boss had a closed door meeting with the marketing director, I was convinced they were talking about firing me. I started having panic attacks about this, which prompted me to go to therapy.
When I was 24, I was lost.
Gradually, the persistent fear of being fired from this job dissipated and I grew in my role as a marketing assistant. But I was still unhappy because I did not love my job. It did not challenge me, I never had enough work to do, and my time was highly micromanaged. There were days where I cried in my car at the end of the day. I wanted more from my work life, and I fell into a quarterlife crisis of not having any sort of idea of what I really wanted from my career.
In the fall, my mom and I moved from our tiny one-bedroom apartment into a spacious two-bedroom and we were both all the more happy for it.
I went on two cruises, spent a long weekend in Georgia with my family, and started attending a new book club.
When I was 25, I was driven.
I made a promise to myself to leave the job where I was so enormously unhappy, so I threw myself into job searching. At the end of the summer, I accepted a position as a copywriter at a growing online marketing firm. It was one of the best decisions I made in my twenties. I received a significant income boost and got to do what I always wanted to do – write for a living.
It wasn’t until I started my new job that I realized I have debilitating social anxiety. I didn’t speak to anyone at my new company aside from my boss for the first three months I was there, and it took me a few days to even have the courage to walk into the break room.
At 25, I had my first kiss, bought my first car, and had my first vacation with friends.
When I was 26, I was happy.
There’s not much to say about this year of my life. I grew as a copywriter (and gradually even made friends with my coworkers), and learned that loving your job is a possibility. I developed deeper relationships with my friends. I dated from time to time. And I continued to live with my mom, which allowed me to pay down debts and save money. It was a good year for me.
When I was 27, I was engaged with my life.
This is the year where everything happened. It was the year I traveled to Savannah twice and fell head over heels for that charming city. It was the year I met a guy who changed my world for a few months and caused me to get super clear on what I need from my romantic relationships. It was the year my nephew, D., was born. It was the year I moved to Tampa to live with my best friend. It was the year my mom remarried. And it was the year I lost my grandma. Losing grandma was the most massive, soul-crushing loss I have ever experienced in my life, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same.
When I was 28, I was lonely.
At 28, I was lonely. And then I was busy. And then I was lonely. And then I was busy. Rinse and repeat, that was my year. I was either overwhelmed with social plans and keeping myself so busy that I couldn’t see straight, or I was sitting alone in my apartment that was too expensive in a city I did not love. This was a hard year.
In the fall, I left Tampa and moved back to the city I loved, into an apartment of my own. It was my first time living alone, and I was terrified because transitions are notoriously difficult for me. But the transition was perfect and easy and stress-free. This is where I was meant to be – in this tiny apartment near my friends and my family and my comforts. This transition sparked a change in me, a feeling of being home and happy and whole.
When I was 29, I was content.
This was my best year yet! I started off 29 with a fun relationship with someone I met in Jamaica that never evolved past anything because, well, we live in entirely separate countries. But he was cute and fun to talk to and made me feel good, and who knows what will happen in the future. I participated in the Women’s March in my city and it got me fired up about politics for the first time ever. I settled into myself, my singleness, and my happiness. I traveled to Puerto Rico with my mom and Asheville with my girlfriends. I got a tattoo. I survived a hurricane. I read more than 100 books. I found out my old pup has dementia and taking care of him has become my utmost priority. I opened myself up to dating in a way I never have before. And I just enjoyed my life as much as I possibly could. Yeah, 29 was a fantastic year and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to my twenties and welcome in my thirties.