Reflections on my Life at 26
The past six months have been some of the fullest months of my life.
Not just full in pleasure, (although living on the road has felt a bit like vacation) rather I have felt more acutely than ever the energy of the ups and downs, seen more clearly how general chaos of life, and felt more strongly the constant of change.
When I was 10 I felt like the days went by in large blocks. It all blurred together together in a numb sort of blissful passing of time, except for the occasional and minor storms of pain and anxiety. Being in Ohio, my life was structured around the seasons, the school calendar, and sports games and practices.
At 15, I vacillated between a dry existence in school and brief playful encounters with friends, goofing off in class, or before a game of soccer. I began to recognize my own psychology, finding art, music, and books through an English class. I don’t think you understand the true concept of other humans being separate from you until you start to look inward. Thanks to Kurt Cobain, Siddartha, and the internet I was beginning my journey of reflection.
At 20, I felt what I now see as an arrogant ignorance that allowed me to focus on my social life and study at Ohio State, as well as formulate some of my future focuses in the background without any meaningful manifestation of them. 20 was an age for living in a bubble similar to age 10, except for a bigger awareness of the outside world and a skewed perception on how it functions.
Now, at 26 I feel more tuned in. Dialed into recognizing my own patterns, having more control and at the same time an awareness of the lack of control. I still have a wild imagination, it just lives within certain more realistic constraints.
I worry less about the happenings of the world, but more about the happenings of my own community and relationships that I can impact. I am more aware that my family have lives and paths of their own to follow.
What I really mean is that now at 26, I feel more ownership over my own life. A full ownership of the good and the bad. The accomplishments and mistakes.
I am actively aware now, of the fact that everything changes. That what happens to me is up to me, from my mindset, to my achievements, my hobbies and…
I must become competent.
This is what is so difficult about the transition from teen to adult. At some point you become directly aware of the level of your own competence. With money, within your relationships in groups, with your craft, with your knowledge of the world.
I can no longer hide behind my young age as reason for mistakes.
This transition is painful, but it is also a relief to settle into this autonomy, if you can build the self confidence to support it.
Taking decisive, important, and sometimes painful action is an essential skill for actively accomplishing my personal desires.
I say “I don’t know” more.
I pursue more of what is an essential interest to me now.
I do less work in total but more work that is in a closer proximity to the work that matters to me.
I do a lot of small things that matter over and over again. My workouts, my diet, my writing, my phone calls, my photos. In a life without seasons, (skewed by travel) I can allow these habits to maintain the order.
I want to surround myself more with everything that brings me meaning. I don’t care for the cheap consumerism. I don’t daydream about a fancy car. I have fallen more in love with people or companies that ooze passion.
Writing. Yoga and working out. Getting in cold bodies of water. Meditation. Reading. Writing and receiving cards. Walking, listening to a podcast. The feeling of creating, like photography. Sharing vulnerably. Building community. Teaching others. Poking the world with my work. Feeling moments of patient peace.
These are things that bring quality into my life.
Hopefully I’ll make it to 30! I know I’ll see a further opening of myself. Each age is a sort of revealing of what’s behind the curtain. Each age is a foiling of illusion of our own self perception. I imagine I’ll learn about what I think about myself and what others think of me. I think I’m organized, but I find that others do not. I think I’m generous, but I come to understand I am self focused.. and so on..
What has opened or changed in you? What do you fight for to have in your life? What brings quality?
What do you want to approach with intensity or accomplish?
As Pema Chodron said:
“(life) It's like riding a train backwards. We can't see where we're going, only where we've been."
I don’t know what’s next. Only that I’ll be able to look back, and see that I will have changed.