How does it feel to be 23?

“Do you feel older?”

I’ve caught myself asking people this on their birthdays, but I’ve come to the realization that you can’t really “feel” like a number. You don’t wake up on your birthday and think, “Wow this IS what 23 feels like, how cool!”

What does 23 feel like? To some 23 is married with kids. To others, like me, it’s all about finding you. An age or time in life can mean very different experiences to each of us.

The phrase “age is nothing but a number” totally rings true for me and the way I see the world. I have friends of all ages and the gap has never been a factor in connecting with them. If you know me, you know I say this often…people are people. Age, gender, and lifestyle do not change the fact that we are all just people trying to find our place in this crazy world. And, if we keep an open mind we will have opportunities to connect with people who are wildly different from us and strangely similar, regardless of biological and societal constraints.

What I’m getting to is, today is my birthday. I’m 23 today and I feel… more experienced than I was 1 year ago. I don’t “feel” 23. I do feel smarter, wiser, happier, more mature, more beautiful, and more loving than ever before. These are things that I hope to feel more of each and every day, not just once a year.

In the past year I have accomplished and experienced a lot.  I have decided to focus more on my health and wellbeing. I focus on living a “Paleo” lifestyle. Meaning, I eat as healthy and real as I can as often as I can. Through this I have taught myself how to cook. Something I was NEVER interested in a year ago. I have successfully completed 3 Whole30’s (Which is HUGE, my friends!). And, I have really found my way to health through what goes into my body and how it makes me feel.

I cut my hair this year. I’ve had long hair my entire life. And by long I mean “down my back, almost to my butt” long! It was very much a part of “who I was”. One day I just told my mom to cut it. Cut it all off. I didn’t think about it and did not plan it at all. It was just a spur of the moment decision and a very bold move. I stood in our kitchen and listened to my mom’s sheers slowly slice through my insanely thick hair. Nervous and excited, with a few tears running down both of our faces, my mom handed me my ponytail of hair. With that 18” in my hand I felt liberated and immediately knew that hair does not define who I am. People couldn’t believe it. Many did not recognize me at all. But I was still me. It’s kind of like when you don’t wear makeup and people look at you funny. Like, “Oh, that’s what you look like? Hmmm…” Yep! This is me and it’s exactly who I am intended to be.

I bought a Sugar Glider. Her name is Penny and wow is she a responsibility. Naturally, she was also an impulse decision. I take her to work and networking events. She’s quite the showstopper! I love my little friend but man is she work. I have to clean her and feed her and STUFF. Clearly I’m nowhere near ready for the responsibility of having my own children. She also barks like a puppy at night… while I’m sleeping. #NotcoolPenny Anyway, you can follow her on Instagram!

So, the food thing was huge and the haircut was ballsy. Then, my relationship of 3 ½ years came to an end. Being young and “in love” is very confusing and complicated. And naturally, I changed a lot over the course of the relationship. Based off of a false dream in my mind, I was trying so hard to check off my “All American Life” list that I lost sight of who I was and who I am supposed to be with someone. Adding to someone’s life, not just being there because you’re supposed to be. I wasn’t as spontaneous anymore. I didn’t feel as free and I didn’t know why. He was sweet, loving, caring, very attractive and everything a girl could ever want (And he still is!). But I knew in my heart it wasn’t right. It is so hard to admit that at a young age and own up to your feelings. There was nothing “wrong” with the relationship overall. We got along, had a good time together but I wasn’t fully myself.

I am very proud of owning up to my feelings and I am so VERY thankful to have spent almost four years with him. I learned that I do not “need” to be with a guy to be happy or be made whole. I need to be happy with myself, in my skin, every day. I feel that being comfortable and confident with yourself is the key to truly enjoying someone else’s company. I also learned that honesty will truly make or break a relationship. Whether it’s a boyfriend or best friend, honesty must always come first. Through that relationship I have learned a lot and that means the world to me.

Since then I’ve been focused on myself, my career, building meaningful relationships, learning as much as I can, and moving out! (More to come on “the big move” later) So now here I am, 23, happy and excited for what’s to come. I have a lot to look forward to in this next year and a lot to accomplish.

Hailey HeishmanComment