Your alarm went off 40 minutes early this morning, but only because you anticipated sitting with your thoughts longer than usual. You lit a candle and let it flicker next to your mat while the rest of the house stayed sleeping. It was a silent practice, just as you like it — just as you craved it above the clouds in Guatemala. This December 18th in New York is much like any other December day in New York, but you don’t mind that it doesn’t feel out-of-the-ordinary. In fact, it feels quite nice to appreciate the sameness.
You paint your lips a deep red and pack your body in layers. It’s one of those brisk winter mornings that the peaking sunlight is deceiving and the air chill wakes you up in all the best ways. The streets outside are reasonably quiet, save for the first Brooklyn commuters leaving their apartments. ‘Just get me through today,’ their faces say.
You walk one block West to the same coffee shop you go every other day that you wake up early, though you don’t particularly love the coffee. In fact, as of recent, you’ve stopped drinking coffee altogether. But when you write — and you love to write — you need a reassuring sense of predictability: you awaken your imagination through familiar smells and background sounds. Today, you use a credit card to buy a black coffee with no room, to-go, please. The words come out and the card slides and you can’t stop from ordering something you know you won’t drink. But changing up the routine will be good for you today. Today you are twenty-five.
At 25, as much as you love to write, you also love the process of figuring out the story itself. When your mind needs a break from words and screens and thoughts, you find riding your bicycle deeply gratifying. Never underestimate the power of the wind, the cold, the heat or the humidity to wake you up.
At 25, you are still experimenting in learning to cook. At 23, you hated it; it caused you angst and anxiety. Today, few things would give you as much pleasure as discovering a new recipe, and thoughtfully, meticulously preparing it with, and for, friends. You always hope friends would like to contribute a piece of themselves as well, since sharing a home-cooked meal is one window into another’s soul. Chewing to taste is something you aspire for, though of course, it’s not always an easy thing to do.
At 25, you strive to be kind and inclusive, above all. You value humility, selflessness, fairness, spiritual and material balance, compassion, integrity. You welcome people into your life who share the same values.
You feel inspired by the women in your life, for they are empowered, thoughtful and highly remarkable individuals. These women have drive like you’ve rarely known from friends, with passions and talents to back it up. Cherish these relationships. Honor them, too.
At 25, you have aspirations, but you’re not afraid of taking your time to achieve them. You are young and can pursue the deep passions of your life as they continue to present themselves. For most certain, your greatest passions will shift and evolve as you continue to look inside and discover what gives you intrinsic satisfaction, and fills you with excitement to wake up in the morning. Tikkun Olam is one of those things; always keep that desire to give a part of you.
Not only are you young, but you still feel young, too. You feel reliant (emotionally) on your parents. I think that’s okay no matter what age you are. That’s what family love is for. Your mother once told you that “family love is all-encompassing and essential to your well-being.” You feel excited to offer your parents the same nurturing and all-encompassing love, and for further growth in the future.
At 25, you are a ‘creative professional,’ loosely defined. You value, admire and respect your work peers. You call them peers because that is what they are, though they are also professional, intelligent, articulate, creative individuals. Even if you really love your job, you should always question what it is offers you in return. While you question, celebrate the things that you do enjoy about it. Appreciate your continual desire to be challenged; what a treat in life to love to be challenged! To want to learn everyday!
More importantly, at 25, remember that work is only a modest part of the journey even though it will define a large part of you for a very long time. Make sure it gives you more than just contentedness: it is vital for work to provide you with enough reward to be happy, to feel stimulated, to experience self-growth and education. When you think about who you are, you are not your work. You can think about some of these things instead:
“I am 25.”
“I am kind.”
“I always have more to offer than what I am currently doing for the world.”
“I am a woman with a voice and strength and ideas that I want to turn into stories that are read, by myself or by others.”
“I am a traveller because it makes me feel more alive than anything. I am a traveller because it builds me up, it knocks me down, it makes me fearful, curious, hungry, satisfied and whole.”
“I am mindful, and mindfulness should be coveted.”
“I am sensitive to the criticism of others.”
“I am indecisive.”
“I am always learning, from myself and from those around me.”
“I am true to myself; I am unsure of my intentions for the next five years; I am confident that everything will be okay then, too.”
On your birthday, remember this: 25 is not a peak, nor a conclusion, but simply a steady transition into another unknown phase of opportunity. Recognize that you are on a new trajectory from any year before, and remember to check-in often to make sure you’re still following the right path. (And that sometimes the wrong path is the actually the right path, and vice versa). If at any time you feel lost: turn around, or go in another direction entirely. Don’t be afraid to see where the new route leads you, for you will certainly discover something, or someone, ever more fulfilling in the process. Think of it as one great adventure, and darling, you love adventures.