Reflections on Being 26

1. I prefer the window seat.

Sometimes the view is much better than you could have ever
imagined it to be in the first place.

That’s only one example of the numerous things that I like. I listed a simple thing I like to emphasize that I now know what I like. I have spent a lot of time away from home and a lot of time on my own. I now have a good handle on what my likes and dislikes are. I’m still very much open to change and trying new things – I love trying new foods especially. However, I am fairly confident in what I do and do not like. I’ve lived in different cities and countries during my twenties and I’ve been exposed to a various geographical locations, cultures, lifestyles, cuisines, beliefs, etc. I don’t always get what I want but I do know what it is I want. I’ve managed to keep a good head on my shoulders and focus on my own passions and interests. There were a few times that I got distracted and tried to fit into other crowds (mainly the popular crowd) and do things that weren’t necessarily wrong but rather things I simply did not enjoy.
I’ve learned my lesson and now I only pursue things that I enjoy and that make me happy. I do them to simply make myself happy and not to please other people around me. That mindset unfortunately only leads to unhappiness – and the only way to learn that it doesn’t work is the hard way.

2. I love being an early bird.

And I need my morning cuppa tea. These are really the only things I’m serious about, haha.

What can I say? I like a good old fashioned routine. I don’t necessarily need to wake up at the same time everyday – though it does help – but I need a few things in my life that I can count on, and a routine is one of them. I like showering and cleaning the apartment on the same days. I like to have one day where I take things slow. I like to have an afternoon or two set aside for writing. And if possible, I like to have a day where I regularly hang out with a friend or two and that day is usually Sunday. Though I love the hustle and bustle of city life and the thrill that traveling to a new country or city brings, I love peace and quiet more. I like to be alone to think and write about my observations of the world around me. The great thing about being the only one who’s awake in the house or apartment is the blissful silence you can enjoy before the day gets underway. I imagine I will continue living like this and enjoying the silence when I become a mom one day – because those moments of pure silence will be few and far between in the future. For the moment, however, I will enjoy the routine I have but will continue to keep an open mind towards change and look for ways to make my days more efficient and filled with life.

3. I don’t use swear words.

Words are very powerful so be careful how you use them.

Not only does swearing go against my beliefs as a Christian, I simply don’t like swear words…in any language. And I know a few but don’t ask me to teach you any. I’ve learned over the years that words have a strong effect on me but I didn’t really know just how strong of an effect they had until I moved overseas for a long period of time.

In a way I’ve become desensitized to them as I hear people from all parts of the world use them frequently – in my native language or their own. I’m also very intellectual and to be honest, swearing in a negative way because you stubbed your toe or swearing in a positive way because you found a great deal on a cute dress at Macy’s or Zara, makes you sound uneducated and unintelligent. It simply does.

The last thing I want to come across as is stupid or ignorant so I choose not to swear. And the worst thing is, when someone strings a sentence together that’s full of swear words…it’s as if they’re saying virtually nothing. I don’t know about you but I think about and choose my words carefully. That’s why I pause a few times while I’m having a conversation or look off into the distance – it’s because I’m thinking about the words I want to say and in the order I want to say them. Most of the time when I speak or add something to a conversation, it’s because I have good reason to do so. Sure, I’m also human and I would be just as likely to have a slip of the tongue and mutter or scream a bad work when something awful happens. However, the habit of swearing never became a habit for me…so it’s not something I have to work on breaking or changing. It feels more awkward for me to say the words instead of having to refrain from saying them. So, in a way, you could say that I would be the ideal friend or girlfriend to introduce to someone’s parents. 😛

4. An attractive mind is much more appealing than an attractive body.

Billboard in A Coruña. What can I say? This country has a lot of attractive men!

This lesson certainly threw me for a loop this past year. I do appreciate a well-dressed and attractive man just as much as the next woman. However, I wasn’t honest with myself for a while just what type of man attracts me. I’ve officially come to terms with how there is a type of man that physically appeals to me more than any other type (read: Latin and Iberian men) but in reality this was nothing new, though something I denied for years. I didn’t necessarily come to terms with it this past year but rather realized that that is the one type of man that I truly go crazy for. I admitted the truth to myself somewhere around the age of 20 or 21 but still wasn’t sure if that was my “type” so to speak.

Well, a few years later, I learned that my type is also the intellectual guys. And this type doesn’t always look drop dead gorgeous…but that’s okay. After meeting a few different people with varying personalities, I realized that if I can’t have a good, deep conversation with a man or talk about my crazy dreams for the future (or the ones I had the night before), then we aren’t compatible. I will get bored with him so quickly and I will want to move on to the next best thing. This thought initially surprised the pants off me when I first came to the realization that it was true.

In years past I was so focused on looks -though I swore that I wasn’t focusing on them- that I could go throughout the day and have imagined myself “being” with a dozen different guys. Up until the beginning of 2015 I was always looking and “shopping” for the next cutest guy. I only did this with my eyes and imagination of course but in the end I was left feeling very disillusioned and still far, far away from finding Mr. Right. I vowed from then on that I wouldn’t let my eyes wander and imagine myself being the girlfriend of every cute guy who happened to turn my head. Instead I would focus on the guys whom I met in bars or cafes or through friends. The guys I was actually having conversations with and getting to know on a less superficial level. Wow, had I done this years ago I would have saved myself a lot of inner turmoil and personal grief. This aspect of life is so much easier to manage when you just let things happen naturally.

5. I don’t have any ex-boyfriends. (And I don’t have a current boyfriend either. Hmm…This did change later on!)

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t casually dated at the very least and I have. However, I haven’t found a man whom – in my eyes- I’d deem worthy of my time, love and devotion and who reciprocated those feelings too. In fact, the times I have tried to get into a relationship, I was the one who put myself out there and shared my feelings. And sadly, each time, the feelings were not mutual and I got rejected. And that hurt – believe me that hurt. It felt like getting my heart physically ripped out of my chest but I’ve become stronger with each rejection. It’s a part of life and a part that we often try to downplay and hide because of the pain it causes. I do hold onto the hope that I have that there is someone out there who won’t reject my affections for them but will instead welcome them with open arms and will also confess his feelings to me. It hasn’t happened yet for a number of reasons and this year I decided to focus on a different aspect of life: the silver lining of being single.

A few days before Valentine’s Day this past year I was walking home from teaching at the school and a profound thought pierced my mind like a knife: I’m no one’s ex-girlfriend. No one has had their heart painfully and selfishly broken by me. No one harbors a grudge or dumps their hatred on me because I spit on their love and rejected it. At that moment, I realized I had been looking at my love life all wrong for over 10 years. I was focusing on the fact how in today’s society, it’s so strange and uncommon that I’ve never had a boyfriend before. Instead, I should have been focusing on not how I have not been someone’s ex. So many relationships go sour and end painfully -and sometimes abruptly. Or the two partners realize that they must continue on in life but must go their separate ways. This is true and heartbreak -whatever degree of it that you experience-does suck. However, the heartbreak that you avoid could be so much better than you realize it could be. If I’ve learned anything during my 26 years, it’s this: it’s better to be alone than be wishing yourself out of a bad relationship. I never realized how grateful I should have been for all the times I heard the answer, “No.” Regardless, I’m still eager and anxious to meet the one who will finally say yes to me. It hasn’t been an easy road for me, but I haven’t lost hope that one day I will find him.

6. I need to read the Bible and pray in English.

This one is pretty straightforward: if I can’t have access to a Bible in English, I won’t feel as motivated or passionate about life and what God desires me to do with my life. Reading the Bible and singing songs of praise in multiple languages is wonderful but there is nothing like talking to and praising God in you own language, in my opinion. And though I often joke saying I don’t need to speak English as much as other native teachers around me seem to need it, this is the one thing in English that I absolutely need. If I didn’t have access to a Bible in English or lost my abilities to comprehend and speak the language, life would lose its splendor for me.

7. In the midst of my own pursuit of personal happiness, I recognized that I also desire to see my friends and family happy.

Sometimes I want this more than I want myself to be happy. Is that a sign of true maturity and being an adult? (It’s kind of scary and surprising to me at times…but it’s how I feel.)

8. For the first time in my life, I accepted all of myself -both the good and bad, my talents, my flaws- for who I am and I learned how to love myself fully.

When I finally meet my special someone, I can not only be happy to be with him but also be proud of the person I’m offering to him. I have fought, struggled and gone through trial after trial to become the woman I am today. And you know what? I’m proud to be her.

One of the places in the world where I am myself and at my happiest – an ice skating rink!

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