In years past, I have written lists about lessons I have learned throughout the year. Today, on my twenty-fourth birthday, I feel all the lessons I have learned have been focused around one central theme.

This has been an interesting year for me. There has been a lot of uncertainty and frustration. At times, I think have handled myself well and acted like an adult. Other times, I have responded like an annoyed teenager or a child.

But what I have come to realize is that both responses are perfectly alright–even normal.

How we respond to the the events in our life is what defines the human experience. We may not like the feelings and emotions we have, but they are what they are and they are real. I should not be upset or mad at myself for responding as a human being would since that it was I am.

There are a couple of lines from  Taylor Swift’s song “22” that capture this idea. The first pre-chorus says, “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.” The second pre-chorus changes just slightly: “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way. It’s miserable and magical.” Happiness, freedom, confusion, and loneliness can be experienced in different ways and somehow still be miserable and magical at the same time.

The things we experience are not happy or sad, good or bad, beautiful or ugly. They are a strange, mystery combination of great sorrow and unspeakable joy, devastating lows and miserable lows, and enlightened understanding and complete confusion.

As I write this, I have been awake since four in the morning, and am frustrated about the long day ahead of me. I hope and pray by writing these words, I remind myself that I do in some way understand that each and every moment of my life has purpose even–or perhaps especially–when I cannot make sense of it.


*emphasis in Taylor Swift’s song lyrics added by the author.


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