September 18: Twenty Four


Today is my last day as a twenty-four-year-old.

Tomorrow, I am a quarter of a century old.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love birthdays. I love celebrating other people’s special birthdays, and I also enjoy the love you feel on your own day. But also, ever since I was 14-years-old, I’ve always been hyper aware of the concept of “getting older.” In fact, I remember crying when I turned 16 because I was terrified at the thought of growing up and being a “grown up.” It’s a little silly to think about now, but the thought of being old was a true nightmare for me…

So tomorrow, I’m twenty five. Does that mean that I am a grown up now? And if so, is that so scary anymore?

At twenty four, I made it through my first year of graduate school and the challenges that coincides with going back to school. I also made amazing lifelong friends within my grad school cohort, and I have expanded my understanding of not just higher education, but of other people’s mindsets and views.

At twenty four, I trained for my first half marathon and struggled through the pain of the actual race. I taught myself that willpower is a special thing and a quality that I do, in fact, possess.

At twenty four, I got engaged to the man with whom I will spend the rest of my life. My dream came true! We made it successfully and happily through another year of long distance and we starting to plan our marriage and our future together. I couldn’t have asked for a better year with Eric.

At twenty four, I learned what it means to take on the responsibility of another life when I finally took the plunge and got a dog. Sanford has taught me how to be accountable and mindful of another life other than mine own; this has been extremely challenging and tiring at times. But he’s also brought me more joy that I can describe through words.

At twenty four, I made a decision that will affect the rest of my life; I committed to going straight through school and obtaining my PhD before I turn thirty.

At twenty four, I jumped into a waterfall

At twenty four, I went to my first music festival.

At twenty four, I learned what having a “trigger” really means.

At twenty four, I struggled to balance both my life and my work.

At twenty four, I traveled, laughed, read. I connected with old friends and built up relationships with new. I loved my fiance with my whole heart and prioritized adventures with him every weekend. We sang, danced, hiked, and loved our way through twenty four. But I also struggled. I struggled hard. I took responsibility for grown up things like paying an arm and leg for tuition, keeping up with my health, and interacting with professionals even in the face of conflict.

At twenty four, I felt like I had successfully “grown up.” I felt as though this is what being an adult was supposed to be like–hard, fun, a mess on some weeks, and a well oiled machine the next. I made mistakes, but took ownership for them. I tried, failed, and learned from it. I grew up.

So needless to say, it’s a little bittersweet to say goodbye to twenty four and all the incredible things accomplished through the year. But twenty five, oh, twenty five. To be married, to graduate from Vanderbilt, to start school back in my doctoral program (to be accepted into a doctoral program), to start a life with my husband, to hopefully be closer to friends and family, to study, to teach, to grow and learn and succeed.

There’s so much to look forward to, so many more challenges to overcome, so many more opportunities to love my friends and family. And I’m happy to report that from this side of my youth, being a grown up doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

Because I know I can handle it.

And that would make fearful sixteen-year-old Alyson pretty damn proud.