Thursday, May 5, 2016

Kate's Journey to 30

I originally wrote this post to publish on my actual birthday, but then I got sick and life got in the way. Here it is in all its glory!

Today, I turn 29 and embark upon the final year of my twenties.

In some ways, it's a little scary that I'm already 29. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was celebrating my 19th birthday in Blacksburg, dancing around and singing the Rent lyric, "I'm 19 but I'm old for my age, I was born to be bad." Somehow, that was a decade ago, and time continues to fly by.

I once was born to be bad. 
For the most part, though, I'm excited to be heading into my thirties. My twenties have been tumultuous, particularly in those first few years after college. College itself was an easy transition for me. When I left high school, my identity was tied to two major things: being part of a faith community, and excelling in academics. Guided by these two building blocks, I managed to fit right in at Virginia Tech. I was immediately welcomed into the catholic community on campus, thanks in part to my older brothers who were already members. Although the classes I took were challenging, I was interested and engaged with all the subject matter, so hitting that 4.0 was not a problem for me (okay, I admit it, it was more of a 3.9, thanks a lot A minuses!). Yes, there were some incredibly difficult times during college (which is a story for another post), but for the most part I spent four years on top of the world.

Virginia Tech Hokies
Just keeping it classy, hanging out on random van seats during tailgates.
And then, just like that, it was time to leave. I took a job in Winchester, and all those things that defined me disappeared. There was no ready-made faith community to welcome me with open arms--I would have to work at meeting people at church, and for an introvert like me, that was difficult. I never felt like I fit in at the church in Winchester, and eventually I stopped going altogether. I also, of course, no longer had my academics to fall back on--without those two things in my life, I was suddenly at a loss.

I suppose Blacksburg itself had also become part of my identity, and for almost a year after moving I tried to cling to that part of myself. Instead of trying to get to know people in Winchester, I made weekend trips to Blacksburg, until one weekend I realized that I was the only person trying to preserve those friendships--I accepted this fact, and the weekend trips came to a stop, but I spent about six months after that grieving the loss of those relationships.

Things got better but they also got worse. I made some great friends, but also made some terrible friends. I went through a phase where I went out too much, hung out with the wrong sort of people, and made zero effort at my job. I was desperately trying to seek connection, trying to collect as many "friends" as possible to prove I was likable, because deep down I believed that my college friendships failed because there was something wrong with me.

I don't think there was any one moment when I had an epiphany and immediately made a change (not even when my roommate looked at me and said, "Katie you're not going to meet your future husband in a bar!" HA! I sure showed her!). I got a new job, and while it wasn't a great job, it was much better than my previous situation. I no longer had to work part time at the restaurant, so I spent more time with myself, my family, and close friends on the weekends, and less time out at the bars with people I barely knew. Slowly, I regained confidence and was becoming comfortable in my skin. And then, I met Matt, and it was as if things all fell into place at the right moment.

Engagement Photos
One of our engagement photos at the scene of the crime, by SoHo Photography
I'm not saying that meeting Matt solved everything--I'm saying that I met him at the right time, when I was ready for a relationship. As my twenties progressed, I still faced many of the same struggles that other women face: low confidence in my abilities, body image issues, etc. However, as each year has passed, those struggles have gotten better. It has certainly helped to have the most loving and supportive husband around!

So now, here we are, and I'm ready to take on this final year of my twenties. I'm excited to welcome 30 next year, but for now I will focus on the present and celebrate the last 365 days of my most eventful decade yet. I don't want life to pass me by, so once a month I will do something to celebrate this wonderful life I have, and the people who are in it (ideally, this would happen on the 13th of each month, but you know, not going to set myself up for failure here). You can follow along in Instagram with #KatesJourneyto30, and I'm open to suggestions for how I should spend my special day each month!

Now, please excuse me while I go eat my weight in birthday food.

All Love,

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