Today is my 25th birthday. And I'm feeling all kind of ways.
This is the year that I will be closer to 30 than 20. I graduated high school 6.5 years ago, graduated college 2.5 years ago, and have been working full time for 2 years. When my parents were 25, they had already been married for four years. When my mom was 25, she had me.
Those facts don't necessarily overwhelm me. They just make me pause in wonderment of how vastly different our human life paths are. And yet, despite the different timelines and goals and circumstances, they are all still relatively the same.
I blogged last month about how I was feeling heavy with grief for my teenage self. It's true that I internalized a lot of disdain and dislike for teenage girls while I was still myself a teenage girl. I feel strongly that these feelings have made it hard for me to fully recover from my eating disorder, and have made me dissociate from a lot of my emotions and desires. My current therapist has made me see how much I really do distance myself from how I feel, and that I talk about myself in a pretty clinical and sterile way. I'm great at dissecting my emotions and binge patterns and depressive episodes with the calculatingly steady hand of a practiced surgeon, but I just keep cutting things away and pulling things out. I'm not filling the empty spots where my feelings and wants and hurts and self-truths should be.
Well, I've decided that this year that is going to change.
During my 25th year of existence, I'm going to do 25 things to reconnect with, honor, and embrace my teenage self so that I can heal and move on to my next phase of life with fewer regrets. Each month, I will plan one social outing, dare, or activity that teenage Emily loved to do or always wanted to do. I will also set a personal challenge to complete on my own, whether it be journaling or having a hard conversation or reconnecting with someone I need to reconnect with. The final ritual will take place on my 26th birthday, in which I will have a "coming-of-age" celebration in which I fully manifest my teenage self, weave her into the fabric of my identity, and move on to the next chapter (don't worry, you're all invited).
I'll be documenting this journey with blog posts and photos, and I would LOVE for anyone who feels a similar call to join me on this journey. Make your own challenges or come to my parties, whatever your heart desires.
My year twenty seven "teen," month by month:
1. 25th Birthday Party! Bowling and dancing at Barbarella. I will be decked out in glitter makeup.
2. Daily journaling challenge. I kept so many diaries as a teenager, and it's a practice I've really fallen out of.
3. Celebrate Galentines Day! I've never really done Galentines before, but my girlfriends were (and still are!) super important to me when I was a teen.
4. Create a retrospective of all my middle school and high school crushes. Customize a ritual to evoke the silly girlish giggles. I feel like this one will be hilarious.
5. Spring break sleepover! Teen sleepovers are the best. Only this time, I can drink wine!
6. Write a letter to the people who were mean to me and let them know how much they hurt my feelings. Don't send it. Burn it instead.
7. Spend a weekend with my mom. She celebrated her 50th in 2016, so we're both going through milestone years. She was my rock through high school, and she still is.
8. Create a super angsty emo playlist that my mom would hate. Listen to it, like, every day.
9. Take a dance class! I loved to dance in high school: ballroom dancing, Zumba-style, dance class at school...you name it, I loved it.
10. Design sigil patterns through motion that emote the way I feel when I'm struggling with food. Set them to music.
11. Go skinny dipping at Hippie Hollow. Everyone's gotta do it at least once.
12. Take a series of self portraits that express how trapped I feel by my body and unhealthy relationship to food. Cover them in sparkles.
13. Go rollerskating! And wear a cute outfit to do it. Fall down a bunch.
14. Go rock climbing. I'm really kind of scared of heights and afraid of making a damn fool of myself on a rock wall, so I need to push myself. Teen Emily didn't push herself to do things that would make her look like she "failed" in front of others.
15. Go to karaoke and sing Britney Spears and songs from boy bands. Badly.
16. Do something I'm not supposed to do. Stay out too late. Ground myself the next day.
17. Go camping with girlfriends and tell scary stories. Talk about first kisses and what I want to be when I grow up. Complain about being too sweaty.
18. Individual and group meditation guided by our teenage selves.
19. Go ALL OUT for Halloween this year. Homemade costume, party, candy, the works. I love Halloween but I let my adult responsibilities creep in and I end up basically missing it every year.
20. Create a mood board of what my mind looks and feels like when I'm stuck in a depressive episode, then create one for what Teen Emily's mind looked and felt like. Compare.
21. Spend time with family. Go through old photos and ask them about what they thought I was like as a teenager. Share memories.
22. Make a scrapbook of my teen milestones using photos found with family.
23. Go paint ceramics with some friends! I loved going to this ceramics studio called Imaginations when I was a pre-teen, and I still have some of the stuff I painted.
24. Write reflections on the past year. Add to my grimoire. It's winter solstice time, time to reflect inwardly and stay protected from the chill of the outside world.
25. 26th birthday party!
I'm excited to take this journey this year, and I am looking forward to sharing the steps of my journey with friends and family. Happy New Year all, Happy Birthday to me, and let's navigate the trials of 2017 with the tenacity and vulnerability of our teenage selves with the strength and experience of our adult selves.