Out with the Old, In with the New: Looking back on Twenty-Two

As my birthday quickly approaches, I can’t help but reflect on this year as a 22-year-old woman. It’s had its blessing and lessons, but it was all worth it. I’ve grown and done things I never thought I would ever do. But, if I had to sum up 22 in one word, it would be: adjusting.For starters, I graduated college with a degree I dreamed about getting since I was 15. Writing has always been a major part of my life, whether it was writing poems, short stories, or recapping my day in a diary. Writing was the only thing I never questioned, and receiving my B.A. in journalism was huge milestone for me. I thought “Wow, I can tell people’s stories accurately and effectively now!”

Adjusting to being a college a graduate has been one of the toughest things for me. All I’ve ever known was school and homework, and to suddenly realize I have to get a ‘real’ job was the ultimate shock. I knew I was not ready. As a way to buy myself time, I saved up money and went to intern at a magazine in South Korea.

Moving to South Korea has been the biggest adjustment I’ve ever had to do. I never realized how spoiled I was until I got here. I had been spoiled with copious amounts of love and attention from others. I was very under-appreciative of it. Being completely alone in Seoul has taught me just how much my family and friends truly love me. (So, thank you to those of you who went on midnight food-runs with me. Y’all are the real MVP!)

I had no choice but to adjust to being by myself and investing into myself. I’ve been constantly trying new things just to know myself better. For instance, I learned I’m a big fan of hiking. Never in my life would I have walked up hill for more than an hour just to see grass. It was the peace and one-on-one time between myself and God that made it all worth it.

Twenty-two has taught me so many things. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself, to try no matter what the outcome may be, and to be okay with awkward situations. Just like that time, an old lady randomly started yelling at me Korean to come talk to her. I almost ran away, but took a deep breath and had a pleasant conversation with her in my limited Korean.

I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin. This has been something I’ve always prayed for, and it took coming to a 99% homogeneous country to do it. I live in an area where not many foreigners live, especially black foreigners. At first, I never wanted to walk around my neighborhood because I just didn’t want to deal with the staring, but once I started forcing myself to go out it got easier. I put on my signature smile and go about my day like everyone else. I’m comfortable in the person I am and becoming.

As 23 begins, I can only hope to remain kind to myself and others, be fearless, and to allow myself to experience all of my emotions wholeheartedly. Emotions can be dangerous, but downplaying them can be lethal.

Twenty-two, you were beautiful in every way, and 23 I can’t wait to see what’s in store!