November 1st marks my birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me! I am writing this at my yoga studio (in a journal to be typed later) before an evening class to conclude my first day being 24. It is special to celebrate in China where I was born and turned one years old. I’m in awe of the past 2.5 months in Shanghai and while a lot has of course changed, some fundamental aspects of my life have not. I still have wonderful family and friends who are so caring and kind, I am still and will always be grateful for my mental and physical health and I love ice cream. I also still would like to think that I am funny. If not hilarious.
Moving to Shanghai took “guts,” so I have been told. I would like to frame it rather as me following my gut. I could have never imagined that I would be this happy at this point in my life not despite, but because of what has happened. Actively, everyday I do small and large actions to invest in my happiness and success and it continues to pay off in ways that unpredictably show themselves. To celebrate 24 years, I decided to write a letter to my past to celebrate the now in theme of this site, “where have you been, where are you now, where are you going.”
Without further ado:
Hello from 24 year old you and me which are one of the same. It turns out that you decided to move to Shanghai and are it a really beautiful season of you life surrounded by a lot of goodness. This is partially because you have chosen and learned to surround yourself and seek out the good. You will go through a lot of really personally trying times before 24 and perhaps you are in the midst of it now. I wish I could give you a big hug and tell you that “this too shall pass.” Because it will. The good and the bad will pass and the key is to attach yourself to these emotions and moments, but rather to embrace them and continue on. The people who are meant to stay in your life will. This I know to be true. There is not to say that there will not be trials and tribulations because there will be. I hope there are trying times for you. These times will teach you perserverence and make you stronger. The key to getting through any challenges (the big and small), is to seek help in others and allow them to lift you up as you would and hopefully will do for them. Because the truth is that we all need help and that is a beautiful thing. We are here for each other and are not alone. Even when you think and feel to your core that you are alone, I promise you that you are not.
There are some superpowers that I hope you discover and learn to use to help not just yourself but others. Vulnerability, empathy and compassion are three of these powers that allow your life to be that much more rich and beautiful. Strength doesn’t come always come from doing things on your own. I can almost guarantee you that the world is going to break your heart. There are complex challenges that feel too big to solve, people that aren’t aware of their own actions and an endless list of things that are heartbreaking and not fair. Feel your feelings. It will make you stronger. Not everyone has the best intentions and learning to decipher and seperate those who will drag you down and those who will lift you up is key. You probably will drag a few people down in your journey because humans aren’t perfect and are fundamentally irrational. Own up to your actions, apologize, learn and lean into kindness. The world doesn’t owe you anything, and you don’t neccesarily owe the world anything. You do owe it to yourself to be a better human tomorrow than the day before. Be generous, give and don’t take but rather receive because there is a difference.
The quality of your life is going to depend on the quality of your relationships. Nurture the good ones and let the other ones go. You can’t fix another person or change them. That is all up to them. Listen more than you talk, be curious about other people, laugh at the irony and silliness of life and pursue your passions. Keep making chocolate chip cookies, keep reading books, keep learning and be a little kinder to your mom. You’re a handful.