September seems to bring transition into my life each year, and this year is certainly no different.
At age 25, I had recently moved to Costa Rica and was celebrating my birthday for the first time by myself in La Fortuna. I ended up having one of the best trips of my life and learning how well I travel by myself and make connections to people. Within a day of being in La Fortuna, I’d made friends with an American-Costa Rican from Wisconsin who owned a banana and coffee farm. I got to spend lunch on the farm and watch a Packers game to finish out my trip.
Last year, at age 26, I lost my job the day before my birthday, and it was the most miserable birthday I have ever had because I let it be that way. I was only able to focus on my failures and inadequacies and these thoughts consumed me for months after.
It’s hard to believe that was only a year ago as it feels like it has been 5 years since that happened. In typical fashion, my life has moved rapidly since that moment. In the past year, I moved back to Wisconsin and was working in wilderness therapy up until about a week ago. I have learned so much about myself – the good, the bad, and the plain ugly – in the past year through relationships with friends and family, my professional development in education, my Reality Check fellowship, and through a lot of deep reflection. I’ve been able to translate my thoughts into real values that I can live my life by including:
1) Meaningful work
2) Close relationships
3) Financial security
When I look through these blog posts over the past few years and consider my life over the past 10 years, I realize that these have always been my core values and they continue to be what I strive towards. They were what helped me decide to move home from Costa Rica, back to Wisconsin, and recently to transition from my job working in wilderness therapy to going back into the classroom to teach special education.
I feel a sense of peace going into year 27 and like suddenly my life is starting to make sense. I know there will continue to be big changes because I choose to value freedom, adventure, and meaningful work, which often cause me to pursue new opportunities. I also know that financial security and creating deep, personal relationships are incredibly important to my well-being and living a happy life, which is why I chose to recently leave an 80-hour a week job, so that I could spend more time at home and with my friends and family.
When I think about my goals for the upcoming year of age 27, here is what comes up for me:
1) Digging deeper into some of the unsavory aspects of my personality and relationship style. Specifically, why I do some of the things that I do that tend to sabotage myself.
2) Losing 27 pounds for year 27. I’d lost almost all the weight I needed to lose when I was living in Costa Rica, but upon moving back to the U.S. I gained it all back and then some due to some thyroid issues. Everything has stabilized now, but I need to dig deep and make the weight loss happen.
3) My #2 core value of close relationships is something I need to intentionally work on. It’s the hardest value for me on my list. I grew up moving around a lot and attended over 10 schools in my K-12 education. I learned to make friends quickly, but not really to move past the surface because I knew I would be moving again. It doesn’t help matters that as an adult, I have continued to repeat this cycle by moving constantly, but there are still many people I care about that I have done a shitty job keeping in touch with or people that I have broken relationship with that I have never attempted to repair. This connects back to goal #1.
4) Balancing my sense of adventure and freedom with financial security. I still love to travel and it is a top priority on how I spend my money. I also really love to see money be added to savings, retirement, etc. My biggest conflicts with my husband and myself internally tend to be related at the intersection between these two things. I hope to get a better system in place on how to handle the balance between travel and spending money.
Looking forward to an incredible 27 and continuing to become a better person. I’m beyond grateful for the friends, family, colleagues, and strangers who have made age 26 such an incredible year of learning and self-development.