23: Or the Attempt at Adulting while Clinging to the Teenage Boy at Heart

Hello faithful (or not — no judgement here) readers! Today is a special day: it’s my birthday *cue confetti and sparklers*  I can’t believe that I am already 23 years old. I definitely don’t feel 23. And what is special about 23? To me, it is just a signal that I’m becoming ancient and more bills are going to come my way (no reaching legal drinking age or driving age or escaping teenage pregnancy this year!). So I just wanted to write a bit and reflect on my time alive (as cheesy and weird as that is) and thank everyone who has ever been a part of my life: you are all too amazing for words.

23 years…a person can accomplish a lot in that time period. And I’ve learned that you need to appreciate the little accomplishments or experiences, too, not just the major ones. By doing that, I think you live a fuller and happier life. When I think back to my accomplishments, here are some that come to mind: I’ve graduated from my dream college with a 3.75 GPA and with Honors; I’ve held plenty of different types of jobs, some which I loved, others, I loathed; I read The Lord of the Rings when I was only 11 years old and started an obsession that will last a lifetime; though I am still unpublished, I’ve written two full manuscripts and started working on a third of a young adult fantasy trilogy; not to mention the 125 pages, roughly, that I started writing in middle school/early high school of a book that I later discarded for this current project; as well as the two screenplays I’ve written (one a short film, roughly 15-20 minutes in length, that is an apocalypse story told through a German Shepard; the other is a full-length film that is a sci-fi apocalyptic story that I want to adapt into a trilogy after I finish my current one); I’ve lived in at least three different states, traveled abroad to London and gone to so many different worlds, countries and universes through reading, writing, films and video games.

Some smaller ones that I also appreciate (appreciate here meaning they jump to mind immediately): I survived the Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2 with my entire squad alive (I’m so ridiculously proud of this); when my sophomore history teacher gave us a book project, she told us that no one had ever read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy in many of the years of teaching — I read it in three days and got a 97% on the report; I’ve seen all of my favorite teams win a championship (Yeah, Royals!); I played and managed soccer; when I was in grade school, we could take tests on the books we read for fun and get points for it — after reading Little Women, I took the 18 question quiz and got 100% (the librarian didn’t believe it was possible, that little 4th grade me could comprehend such a book); I managed a newspaper, have had an internship and read enough books that I think at least a third of my life alive has been spent reading…and I’m not even kidding.

I know what you could be think: wow, a bit narcissistic there, huh? Writer has a birthday and she thinks that entitles her to write about all the cool things she’s done with her life. Whatta prick. But that’s not the point. The point isn’t to brag about what I’ve accomplished or make people uncomfortable with listing things out like that. The point is to reflect on what I have done with my life, sit back and be proud of that. And I think that is something everyone should do: make a list of what they have done, both little and big, that they are proud of, so that they can soak it in and feel great about it. And especially as my mental health has gone down the drain this past semester, I think I needed to write this post. I think I needed to write about what I’ve accomplished (above), what I’ve gone through (below) and who I am as a person (the end of this post). It was therapeutic and I think I needed it. Writing is my form of release, after all. I just happen to be posting this one.

When reflecting about my life, however, I am not the woman (hell, I’m a woman…*runs away in terror*) that I am today because of all the positive things I have experienced or achieved. The failures, the negative experiences, the hardships…all of those things shape me, too. Here are some examples: I got an “C” on my first college paper (which was a really big blow to me); my first fiction writing workshop, my professor crucified my essay and destroyed my confidence as a writer, making me go through an intense identity crisis (blogged about it here, if you want to learn more); I’ve undergone surgery thrice (when I was 2 years old, part of my face was removed; when I was 7 and broke my elbow in half ((really wicked scar and story now, though)); and when I was 13 and had surgery under my tongue); I’ve been rejected to every agent/publishing company I have ever queried to (reaching mid-20s nows); I was rejected to every grad school I applied to; I’ve dealt with both of my parents having tumors and my Mom’s battle with breast cancer, along with my Grandma having lung cancer; one of my closest friends died when I was 17; I’ve battled depression, self-loathing, weight issues, body issues, image issues, self-esteem issues; I used to hold the mentality that I wasn’t “good enough”; I’ve never been in a relationship or been kissed; I quit soccer my freshmen year when I should have kept playing; I’m $25,000 in debt and I have no credit; I’ve made enough cooking mistakes that I could write a recipe book about what not to do…the list, like the list of achievements/positive things, could go on.

But here’s the point: today, November 3rd, is my birthday. I was born 23 years ago, in 1992. I could be labeled as an “accident,” but I like to believe that many parts of my life cannot share that label. Just writing this post, it is obvious that my life has been filled with ups and downs, with accomplishments and failures, with celebrations and hardships, just like everybody else. There are plenty of things I didn’t list, things I could elaborate on, things that I regret, things I want to relive and so many things that I haven’t yet lived through. Yet I am so happy with the life I have lived and so stoked for what it has to offer in the future. And I’m confident that, at the age of 23, even though I still want to improve plenty of aspects of myself, I know and, more importantly, love, who I am. Who am I? Let me tell you (and again, this is more for me than for you, I’m just sharing it with you, too, because I’m not scared of who I am and, let’s face it; I’m a writer, this is what we do):

I am a 23 year old woman. I am a writer of genres that women weren’t originally meant to write in. I’m an optimist that doesn’t believe the glass is half-full, but overflowing with unicorns and rainbows. I am straight-edged, a tattoo addict, a Tolkien scholar, an avid reader, an intense RPG gamer, an out-of-the-closet nerd. I believe in dragons. I love the outdoors, fall weather, second (and third) helpings and family gatherings that has nothing to do with technology. I’m a luddite, an Anglophile, a Neflix-binge-watcher and a grammar freak. I don’t believe in using the Oxford comma (gasp!). I’m a loner, a recluse, a social butterfly and a dreamer. I’m a hopeless romantic with high standards and an even higher definition of what it means to be in love. I like Vans, dark clothing and, because of my Hobbit meal schedule and southern roots (bring on the butter), rock some hella curves. I want a big family with children whose names will be rare enough that there is no duplicate in their class and they may even hate me for it. I hope to own at least three dogs and name them after my favorite dragons (can you guess what they are?). I plan to publish at least a couple dozen books. I have an intense and active imagination and I am just learning it what is like to love myself. I have self-esteem issues related solely to my body image. I can’t cook. But, I used to be able to write in Dwarven ruins and plan on being fluent in Tengwar (Elvish) one day. I love Jesus, practice my own faith, but struggle with the idea of organized religion. I plan to wait to have sex until after marriage and I like to get at least 8 hours of sleep (even if that means I go to bed at 10). I’ve had the nickname “Grandma” or “Mom of the Group” for quite some time now. I’m old-fashioned and traditional, and just a helluva lot weird.

I am all of these things and more, because I am shaped by my life and my choices. I am blessed in so many ways. I am challenged. At 23, I am lost and confused and trying to figure out exactly what I am meant to “do” with this life I lead. But I am also shocked and overwhelmed by with happiness at the luck and blessed I have had, to have such an amazing family and lifelong friends I am thankful — to the point of tears — to have. I am working on loving myself and figuring out life (if such a thing exists), but as I look back at my life, my year as a 22 year old and where my future is going now that I’ve hit 23, I know a few things for certain: adulting is hard, even if I am mentally capable to handle it; my heart still belongs to the body of a teenage boy, because I’d rather chase after dragons, play video games and write about shapeshifters than work or go to school; and, regardless of everything, I am proud of who I am and the life I have lived, even if I question it all, at times. Cheers to 23 years and cheers to many, many more!

Cheers,

Nicole

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

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