I nearly forgot about my birthday post this year. It’s kind of sad that this blog has become such an afterthought, but I figured I’d regret skipping what’s been a 10+ year tradition, so here goes:

I’ve been preparing myself for 26 since just before I turned 25. I have this thing about not wanting to get old - mostly because I’ve seen how much old age sucks. None of my grandparents have / had really aged very healthfully and getting old just scares the hell out of me, but this is the first time that I’m OK with getting older. At least this year. Next year may be a different story.

This past year has been pretty great. In fact, when blowing out the candles on my cake the other day, I had a tough time coming up with something to wish for. I’m REALLY happy with where my life is right now - I have great friends, a good job, and, for the first time in my entire life, even things on the family front are in a really good place. So many times this year I’ve found myself just walking down the block, letting my mind wander, and coming to the same conclusion: there’s no where else I’d rather be right now. I LOVE living in NY, I LOVE the life I’ve created for myself. Really, anything else that comes along is just icing at this point. Sure I still have my Big Life Goals that I won’t stop going after, but when I look around and see how much I’ve done with my life so far I’ve stopped going “oh my god I’ve reached the ‘nearly 30’ point” and have turned it into “look at what I’ve done - and I’m ONLY 26.” Sure there are bad days here and there, but on the whole, it’s a great place to be.

Soon after my 25th birthday, my quarter life crisis kicked in and I quit my job at Etsy to work on Accompl.sh full-time and to sort of try to explore what life had to offer me. I ended up living off of my savings account for over 9 months (something I should really dive into in another post) and had an AMAZING time. My bank account is still recovering, but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. Between what I got to learn and the time it freed up for me to focus on other things that were important to me, those 9 months were invaluable. (And as an aside, when talking about this time off, I always have to note that the 9 months was purely coincidental and no I didn’t have a mystery baby or anything!)

I got to cross off one of my big bucket list goals this year. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing since I was about 13: go on a cross-country roadtrip with a friend and take tons of photos. This past May, Jimelle and I packed up our backpacks, flew out to LA, rented a car, and zig-zagged our way across the country. It only took us 9 days but I got to see SO much of this country and it was a LOT of fun.

Recently, I realized that this past year was a lot about learning what my personal priorities and goals are instead of what’s always been assumed or prescribed. I think the time off really helped that. I now know, for the most part, where I’d rather spend my time, my money, and my attention. For instance, I’d rather pay $150 for great seats to a Broadway show than buying new gadgets (crazy, I know!) In fact, I think this year has been a lot about de-cluttering my life in general. I’m far less focused on “stuff” and more on “experiences.” I’ve cleaned out my closet about every 2 months this year and have donated things that I don’t wear anymore. I’ve sold things I no longer use. It’s nice to pare down. It’s also helped me to realize that I’d rather spend more money on something that I know I’ll really enjoy and get value out of than a bunch of little nonsense that won’t add value to my life. That’s not to say I won’t buy stupid things here and there - I’m certainly guilty of that - but like I said, I’d rather have great experiences than a lot of Things.

At brunch with my friends yesterday, Jimelle asked what my goals were for 26. It’s something I’ve thought a bit about, but really, there are only 2 big ones that I could come up with: 1) travel outside of the country. It’s been way too long since I got my passport stamped. And 2) meet a really great guy. I have a few career goals in mind too, but they’re still a bit nebulous, so I won’t bother trying to articulate them. After brunch we were talking over coffee and Jimelle (who’s already 26) and I got to talking about how we have such different timelines from a lot of the people we went to high school with. So many are already married with kids, or they’re in very serious relationships / are engaged. I’m nowhere near that point. I’m so not ready for kids yet. Marriage? Maybe. But not really. Maybe in another few years. I know I definitely want that out of life - so hopefully it’s in my future!

Twenty six is a really adult year in my mind. I haven’t quite figured out why, yet, but it seems like it’s the year for growing up. I’m kind of looking forward to that, actually.

So what’s on deck for this next year? I honestly don’t know. Taking advantage of NYC - more Broadway shows, maybe a symphony, great restaurants. More time with friends. More great experiences. Continuing to have good relationships with my family. Maybe paying off a significant portion of my student loans. I want to focus on doing the things that make me happy and learning and growing as much as I can. I want a great year with amazing adventures and amazing people. A simple goal. I think this year will bring big things. We’ll see!

Past Birthday Posts: 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19 (lost), 18, 17 (lost), 16