long time no see! i hope you’re doing well! it’s december 26, 2022- my last day being 23. i haven’t written for this blog in the past 18 months and it was one of my goals for this winter break to write something for this year before jetting off into 24. it’s truly baffling that i have 2 years until i reach the 10 year mark and end of 16til26*.
i set a brief time-limit on writing this post so that i don’t labor myself with trying to come to some conclusion about the year. i want to briefly check-in for the sake of tradition.
here’s everything that happened this year and a few things that i think one could perhaps expect at 23!
when thinking back, i’ve settled on the idea that this year kinda felt like i was using one of those korean scrubby-exfoliating-towels (x) and stripping allllll the dead skin off my body. it’s warming and rough, your hands feel sore from scrubbing so thoroughly. the brownish-grey pills of dust and dirt sloughing off, both disgusting and fascinating to see the body quietly hold so much recent-memory on its surface. your arms and legs look all pink and flushed once the veneer has been sanded away. by the time you leave the shower, you feel soft and tingly and new, skin thirsting for something emollient to trap in the moisture.
i don’t quite yet feel soft and tingly and new- maybe that will come with the spring next year, but for now i am feeling sanded down and tired and warm and tender. this year brought a lot of change. it also brought a lot of sameness.
i don’t remember a lot of the first half of the year. it was mostly spent quietly trying to steal time back from my screens, between remote work and winter’s wanting to drown out the boredom and discomfort with dramas and anime. i spent a lot of time in therapy, trying to figure out how to communicate my needs, how to shape my home space, how to cohabitate with austin. i started going to the gym a little bit, and felt more comfortable exploring my neighborhood. i wore a lot of chunky necklaces and bright blue and green eyeshadow, to compliment my bright red, and then orange, hair. though, i’m fairly tired and irritable most of the time. i exclusively donned my uniform of XL t-shirts and my one thrifted pair of lulu yoga pants. there was a horrible three month period where i was living with a couple of mosquitoes- i think i had 15-20 bites at one point on my arms and legs and neck. i also set up an altar in my room to study astrology and read tarot. i went on walks and cooked a ton and hung out with my cousin, patty, in the city every couple weeks. i went to disneyland with brenna, and then my mom, and a ton of concerts too (lorde, jacob collier, the boyz, earth wind and fire, seventeen, kcon la). i finally had my graduation ceremony from stanford in june, then i cut all of my dyed hair off.
by the end of summer, i started training again at a muay thai gym with my brother, which we used to do in middle school. i began meeting people again, and liking my body more. i stop wearing make up and doing my hair and i let the third lobe piercings i got on my 23rd birthday close up because they kept getting tangled in my hair at the gym. i also got to a point where i was both miserable enough and self-respecting enough to quit the start-up i was in. i think i lost a chunk of hair from stress during this time (the bald spot is still growing back), but i found/interviewed for/and landed a non-profit job that i adore, only a couple weeks later. this is when time dilated, and i began imagining my life in weeks, months, and seasons, because it was (and still is) so chock-full of things i love on purpose. i can remember more things and my days feel both shorter and longer because of how present i feel for all of it.
in september, i was out with covid on my second day of work. at the end of the month i was recovered, then i flew to boston and new york to visit austin’s parents and brenna. in october, i continued to ease into my new role with a wonderful manager and co-workers. i also joined the fight team and hung out at the gym a lot more often in the evenings. i started cooking a ton of soup. i saw rosalia and stromae in concert with my brother. i went to mexico city with austin. these are all things that were planned on my tech salary and not my nonprofit salary, so in november, i begin learning how to budget more effectively. i also had rashes all over my shins, i got a bunch of blood drawn and got a nexplanon implant put into my arm. i also had a nasty cough that wouldn’t go away for a few weeks. i also had food poisoning. it was a tough month.
by december, i’m pretty drained by how shitty my sleep has been. yet, mostly wistfully pleased at how much happier i am now vs. this time last year. i got to watch austin perform in his gym’s winter circus show. i also now get to spend two weeks off of work for winter break because i work for a university. the apartment is clean and my laundry is folded. i am home at my parents’ house to snuggle my dogs, eat pan de sal and drink coffee with my parents and brother, play games, and watch movies, like every holiday. and now i’m here.
to return to the exfoliating metaphor, maybe the image came to mind because of how much time i literally spent scratching my skin (between the bug bites and the weird rashes). nonetheless, i do feel like i have been sitting in the bath by myself and scrubbing myself clean. i’ve been working with my therapist on chipping away at old patterns, old ways of thinking and doing, mechanisms to cope and protect, ideas and expectations, etc. i am a bit pink and vulnerable and nervous for next year for some reason. but i’m spending the rest of the winter, as the days grow longer and longer, to rest, to stretch, to massage new esteem into my skin.
if i am to make any claims about what to expect at the age of 23, it is the following:
- it is unmistakable that you are an adult, and that agency can be disorienting. you have the power to clearly discern and shape your roles in all of your relationships (family, friend, work, etc.).
- you begin to identify the extent of your creative-control over what your life can look like. there are opportunities to come into your power in strange ways. there is a level of imagination that you must conjure up to play with your circumstances, experience, and resources.
- the patterns you inherited come into awareness. the relationship dynamics and examples of adulthood that you witnessed growing up reveal themselves in the way you go about your business.
- you return to your inner child, and have the power to give them what they need. you reclaim pieces of them that you had to hide away to protect. you must advocate for them as an adult, particularly if they were previously cared for (or dismissed) by someone else.
i am sure there are more things, but this is what i’ve settled on for now. they say no one likes you when you’re 23 and honestly i think it’s the time when we might like ourselves the least… or are at least are confronted with the fact that you have the power to raise yourself now, so now it seems like it’s all up to you. all the novelties of the 20s are fading off and you pay your own bills now and you realize good sleep is the only way to fix 90% of your problems. your body is getting a little creaky, and you have to schedule walks during the day. you now take an equal part in planning christmas, or any other family gathering, and the whole world is no longer cultivating the holiday spirit for you because you are no longer a little kid. you have to protect yourself, and celebrate yourself, and you have to do it for yourself in collaboration with the people around you. your friends drift further away because you realize that (if you’re american) your cities are not walkable nor affordable. you have to imagine your life three months ahead to schedule time-off of work to rest, but if you’re not a planner (or non-committal) that can be daunting.
when you’re 23, there are no more scripts, so maybe you feel like you lost the plot. or have no idea what motivation your character serves. there are fewer rules for success because everyone’s lives looks different and they seem to be doing okay. and sometimes it can feel unfair because you put so much and/or not enough effort into XYZ and now you’re 23 and it’s too late to ABC. but honestly, when you’re 23, you’re still just 23. you’re still growing. you’re still learning. you have barely been alive for two decades and you’re just figuring out how to cook for yourself, pay your taxes, save money, communicate your needs, forgive yourself for making mistakes, etc. and it’s all fine.
this year, i’ve began to think of time as kinda sexy and unavoidable. i’ve always loved time, clearly by the name of this blog. i’ve loved warping it and dilating it through art and i love examining it. but now i think time is this gorgeous, beautiful, unrelenting god to witness, experience, and surrender to. i will continue to get older, more weathered, more experienced and i can only do so by respecting time, by trusting timing, by taking the time to continue trying and showing up everyday. it’s simultaneously a reverence that is honored by waiting for things to unfold, and a reverence that is practiced via complete and utter immediacy. sensorially(?) present and aware enough to participate in the unfolding.
anyway. that’s all i have for you today, i think i have to quit while i’m ahead. i have so much more to talk about– like thoughts on adjusting to christmas as an adult, my own realizations about my need for alone-time in nature (as it may relate to control), trying to be more analog in 2023– but for now i’d like to wrap it up here.
thank you for reading, and i wish you all the best of luck for this year. happy early birthday to me, and wishing you a happy new year!
p.s. i just found out after publishing this blog that this is my 100th post on the site!!! kisses to all of you!
please subscribe if you’d like 🙂 i also plan to write my astrological take on this past year and the age 23 on my substack sometime next year, which you can check out here. ❤
4 replies on “my first and last post of 23!”
brought here from your latest substack post — so beautiful as always!! esp everything about being 23!! love your writing ❤
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ah thank you so much, therese!! sending u lots of love!!!! ❤
Até! Happy happy birthday to you! I hope 24 shapes up to be a wonderful, bright year, and brings you so much love, luck, and many beautiful things ❤️ sending love to you during this season
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thank you my dearest!!! wishing you a happy new year and sending all of my love! ❤