22.

This is the part of my life where I silently remove myself from anyone who hurts me more than they love me, drains me more than they replenish me, brings me more stress than they do peace, and tries to stunt my growth rather than clap for it.

As I sit in the library on this Monday morning, after running around to hand in an assignment that I had written down an incorrect due date for (ah, the beauty of age), I can’t help but reflect. I realize that sometimes bad things happen, and that’s okay. I’ve also come to realize that as much as I love being with my friends and going to parties, I no longer enjoy the atmosphere that comes with it. I can be in a room full of people and be there physically but that no longer satisfies my desire for intellectual and stimulating conversation, being in the comfort of my own home and more importantly, preparing for the big bad world out there when I leave UWC. Growing older has taught me that we cannot be there for everyone and that’s okay. It’s opened my eyes to the fact that people can be in your circle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re your friend. I’ve also come to understand that my mental health is way more important than maintaining toxic friendships because I’m too kind to cut people off.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that being mature is better than making irrational and petty decisions. It’s okay to congratulate your ex for graduating if you were part of the journey with them or wish them for their birthday, even if you’re no longer together. It’s okay to greet people you may have drifted apart from, even if you don’t talk as much as you used to. I’ve come to understand how important it is to remind your family and that you love them and fights are so unnecessary. Maturity is being able to walk away from situations that costs me my peace, because peace is expensive.

In terms of relationships, I’ve learned that love really is worth waiting for, but it’s not worth missing out on life. The best love stories are ones that happened unexpectedly. With that being said, I will wait for the man who respects me and supports me for who and what I truly am and everything I am yet to become. One day, someone is going to look at me like I am the best thing in the world and when that happens, I’ll be reminded that it was definitely worth the wait. I would rather spend my life living in the moment and be surprised by what happens than expect it every minute of the day, and that’s okay too.

Most importantly, I’ve come to understand the value of being happy for other people’s successes, no matter how small. Before, I would always get despondent when people were doing better than me or moving at a faster pace, but I’ve learned that God has his own timing, and I need to trust that, because “blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her” (Luke 1:45). I want to celebrate the success of others knowing that one day they might want to celebrate with me, I want to be there for people that may not have made it as far as I have but encourage them to keep going. And no matter what happens, I will always treat the cleaner the same way I would treat the CEO, because character is how you treat people who can do nothing for you. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but I trust him and that is all that matters.

Being 22 means that I now have more blessings to count, more challenges to face and a whole world out there waiting to be seen. I cannot wait to make memories all over the world and I already love the people I have not yet met. I promise to let go of things that no longer serve purpose, celebrate the little things and moments, move on from things I have no control over and to find happiness in everything, because nobody is allowed to take my happiness away from me without my permission.

Jen Sincero once said:

“You are loved. Massively. Ferociously. Unconditionally. The Universe is totally freaking out about how awesome you are. It’s got you wrapped in a warm gorilla hug of adoration. It wants to give you everything you desire. It wants you to be happy.ย  It wants you to see what it sees in you”

So, here’s to the nights that will turn into mornings, friends who become family, my future husband and the amazing family we’re going to have, the places I have yet to explore and make memories in and to everlasting happiness and great success. Also, I couldn’t help myself but to include a late women’s day message which is appropriate for National Women’s day, the day after my birthday.

Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them – Stacey Bendet

Happy Birthday, Deeanne.

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