I've decided that adapting to "adult" life and single life simultaneously is one of the more awkward transitions I've been through yet. When I was younger, being newly single meant belligerent nights downtown with my girlfriends, bonding in our mutual man-hating, and barfing away our sorrows in the wee after-hours. I like to think I've done a lot of maturing and soul searching in the last couple of years, enough so that at 25 being newly single means nights of curling up on the couch with a glass of Mondavi Chardonnay and watching romantic comedies solo is not only acceptable but enjoyable.
It's a difficult thing to explain to people who aren't at that same place, and I don't say that in a condescending way toward myself nor the "others" insinuated. We all take different paths, thus passing through different stages in our own time and way. For me, 25 has so far been a season of enlightenment, and not always the freeing kind so much as the potentially depressing sort. It has been the acceptance of realities, such as that my career path no longer exists and that the people who have been an integral part of my life for all my life are as flawed as I am.
I ran away to Bali for the week of my 25th birthday, not previously calculating that in Bali my birthday would arrive a day sooner. I suppose the irony was appropriate. During my 22-hour layover in Hong Kong on my way home from that trip, I spent a great deal of time sorting out life frustrations through my journal. I had just finished reading a book called "Eat Pray Love" which, thanks to Oprah, has become a top seller. It is an autobiography of one woman's journey through a year of post-divorce soul searching. I remember feeling like I could be that woman, middle-aged and miserable even though she had all of the conventional pleasures lined up for her, including a beautiful home and husband, and a solid writing career. I remember feeling compelled to continue pursuing my passions, despite the speculation that even I had for myself after a decade of dabbling with no promising leads.
I can't say that in this moment I feel the same intense determination to faithfully wage on in those pursuits, but that inferno has not been extinguished so much as tended, evolving into a steady determination to simply be myself. I'm still figuring out day by day who "myself" is. But one of my most refreshing realizations at 25 has been that there's no shame in not knowing. In fact, there should be some level of pride in the ability to honestly and openly accept that life is a constant journey during which we are shaped and molded and forged into the best "me" that can exist.
What do I know about myself? I know that from early childhood I have had a fascination with the world. I know that for the last decade I have been passionately pursuing the use of journalism and photography as a means to expose the western world to the issues and needs of developing nations. I know that I have friends and family who absolutely love and support me as much as I do them, and have grown to value those relationships in a deeper way. I know that regardless of the roadblocks that I encounter I will more than survive, I will thrive, because a woman walking out her destiny is more powerful than any failing economy and stronger than the locks on the doors that have slammed in her face.
It doesn't matter what my past has held, and it doesn't matter if a man doesn't hold my near future. There are too many opportunities for lived experiences laying ahead to focus on the rear view mirror. Life is before us.