Embracing 23: I Love Me!

Just over a week ago I turned 23. In those 23 years, I have learned a lot about life, people, relationships and social structures. I am a fairly observed person. I am resourceful and I figure things out. At 23, I can finally say that I am happy with the person I am and the person I am aiming to become.

Growing up, the concept of true friendship eluded me. I had people act friendly towards me, but that was because I was smart. They wanted something from me. Every year my friend group changed. There was no consistency. I accepted those people because I wanted to feel like I belonged. I wanted to be a part of something. It wasn’t until I got to college that I discovered what true friendship was. At that time it came in the form of my fraternity brothers, my residence life friends and my fOAmily. It was those people that allowed me the opportunity to really unearth and embrace all of me.

At 21, I faced the most emotionally draining year of my life so far. My emotions were only in the extremes: either I was really happy or really sad. There was no in between. I was graduating college. I was unsure of what was next for me. I had initially planned for one thing. That journey took more out of me than I thought it would. I was not in a good place. When things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped, it created an even deeper chasm of emotional despair than before. I eventually found myself out of it through reflecting and reminding myself of all the positive things I was doing.

At 22, I moved to a new city. I tried something different. I took time to discover who Ronnie is and allow people to see that. I told myself that if a person doesn’t like who I am authentically, then I don’t need that person in my life. I don’t need people to judge, criticize or try to change me. I took that mentality and brought to my grad school interviews and it worked out. I found the place I’m meant to be.

I may be in my early 20s but I know enough about myself and who I want to be. I know what I believe. I know the kind of person I want to be. I know that I don’t believe in gender roles. I know that many of the gender roles placed on men don’t apply to me nor will gender roles apply to my future relationships. I know that the phrase “as a man” is irksome to me. I know that I have one life to live and I’m going to live it in a way that makes me happy. I cannot live to satisfy others.

At 23, I am on a path towards success. I know what my definition of success is. I know that I will make mistakes. I know I will stumble and fall. I know that I must surround myself with people who are on the path to success and will support me in my journey. I’m just over a week away from moving to a state where I have no family. I will be on my own, but I will be fine. This is my journey and I am ready to stand on my own two feet.

For 23, I have 23 goals I want to achieve/work towards over the next year:

  1. Eat healthier
  2. Work out
  3. Create (art, music, stories)
  4. Perform more original music
  5. Present at a conference/workshop
  6. Facilitate a discussion around diversity, equity and culture
  7. Do research
  8. Make memories
  9. Open up more (let others in)
  10. Speak up (let my voice be heard)
  11. Take risks
  12. Have adventures
  13. Try something I’ve never done before
  14. Attend a professional conference
  15. Attend concerts (aim for 3)
  16. Take photos
  17. Teach something
  18. Save money
  19. Land an internship
  20. Publish something
  21. Make time for myself
  22. Read 15 books for pleasure
  23. Go on an actual date

I’m embracing 23 and all of the changes that will come with it. I’m setting myself up to do great things. Happy 23! It’s my Jordan year!

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