Tag Archives: Birthday

The World Ahead…

Friends! Today* is my birthday!

Birthdays are crazy things, especially as you get older. I turned 24. My age is only reflected in the amount of bills I owe and the amount of “real world job experience” I have on my resume, as physically, some people still mistake me for a high school student (why? just why?), emotionally, I have the spirit of a Grandma while most of my interest and hobbies will always remain in the realm of a teenage gamer. But, the reality of it is it, I was born in 1992, 24 years ago. And it has me all contemplating.

Naturally, another year older, I looked back at the year I lived as a 23 year old. It was definitely a crazy, emotional and eventful year for me: graduated from college; went to grad school; move out of state; dropped out of grad school; moved back home; wrote four books; read hundreds more; became a more dedicated gamer; got my first post-college job; got my first apartment and the bills that follow it; became a bit more introverted and a little bit more of a loner as an adult. So many life changes, so many adventures, so many challenges, so many regrets, so many memories, so much happiness and heartbreak and stress and relief.

Of course, now that my birthday’s over, I’m thinking about what the future year might bring and I am utterly clueless. How many jobs will I end up working? Will I advance in my career or stay stagnant? How many books will I write? Will I query at all? Will I become represented? Will I renew my lease or have a change of scenery? Will I fall in love? Will my dreams come true? Will I cry myself to sleep? Will I…?

The list is endless.

I do know this, though: I want to be better to myself. I want to be more genuine in reflecting who I really am. I want to be fearless.

My life, like anyone’s, has been built upon ups and downs and has been shaped by so many aspects. Along the way, it has taken a really, really long time to discover myself and who I truly believe I am. The past few years, especially, I have discovered leaps and bounds about myself; about what I want in life; about who I want to be. And it’s taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t hide that woman from the world, nor should I apologize to the world about who exactly that woman is.

Because, truthfully, I love her.
Yet, just as truthfully, I have spent so much of my life hating her.
Hating myself.

A year from now, if I live to be 100, I’ll have lived a quarter of my life. A quarter of my life, gone and lived and in the past, like a blink. I refuse to spent the rest of it degrading and damaging myself simply because I refuse to fit into a mold society wants to me to fit, thus supposedly deeming myself lesser, unworthy, not good enough, because of that deviation.

No bloody longer.

My name is Nicole. I’m 24 years old. I’m a writer by birth, a storyteller by trade. I am weird, odd, quirky. I claim the title nerd with honor and pride. I am a walking juxtaposition in so many regards. And as early as middle school, I have hated myself, mostly influenced by my physical appearance, but also because I didn’t think the person I was, the person I have grown into and become, was worthy of anything; even though deep down, I knew that I loved myself. I wanted to love myself. But how could I, when society constantly spoke otherwise; when I allowed myself to be ruled by numbers on a scale or on clothes; when depression reared and loneliness overruled?

This is my life and I am so tired of being ruled by fear, being boxed in by societal expectations and categories that I don’t fit, of hating myself when all I want to do is love. My body is curvy and my face is plain. My opinions are stubborn and my views spoken. My hobbies are passions that are expressed with enthusiasm. My soul is old and my beliefs traditional. I love fully and intensely. My skin is inked. My conversations are in-depth. My standards and expectations are high.

All of these aspects of myself, I have hated, feared or questioned because of how the world responds: with distaste, with dissatisfaction, with disapproval. There are plenty more that didn’t make it into that list. Yet they are also all aspects that, if I am so totally and utterly honest, I actually love about myself. Deep, deep down, I knew this. Yet I never gave myself permission to fully accept and embrace this self-love; to express myself without apology or explanation for who I am to my core and ooze confidence powered by love.

Dammit, I am 24 years old. I think it is high time I allowed myself to love myself.

I have no idea what my 24th year will bring; what my future holds, how my life will change or twist or contort or challenge me or reward me or break me or mold me. But I do know this: I am sick and tired of hating myself when I am worthy of love. Not only love from my friends–which is felt–or my family–which is cherished–or from a soulmate–which is craved–but from myself.

Which is deserved and desperately overdue.

Cheers.

* So I posted this technically on the 4th, even though my birthday was on the 3rd. And regardless of when I posted it, you could be reading this at any point, so the statement is pretty much null and void no matter which way you look at it. So sue me.

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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