“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling twenty-two”
What does twenty-two even feel like?
I guess I’ll find out…
A year ago, I had just moved to Germany. I had no friends in my city and ended up travelling to Frankfurt to spend my twenty first with a couple of friends from university. I didn’t know it yet, but that was to be the first of countless weekends of adventures, new friends and long nights out.
The day of my birthday, my friend gave me a stick and poke tattoo. The design was simple, but the significance was to remind me that life is in flux, and tomorrow, anything could happen.
Prior to that weekend, I’d had serious doubts about my move to Stuttgart. I felt lonely and confused in a big city where I knew nobody and understood nothing. I thought perhaps I’d made a mistake. But in just one weekend I was reminded how quickly a perspective can be shifted.
I suddenly felt less lonely, surrounded by new friends dancing till the early hours of the morning. Some of these people, I have not and will probably never see again, but a few, have become good friends over this last year. My move to Germany, which had previously felt like a great mistake, suddenly seemed full of possibilities. I thought perhaps I might have a good year after all.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know what happens next. I did, in fact, have an epic year, with a healthy mid-year burnout to remind me to set my priorities straight and a (still ongoing) pandemic, which I think was overkill on the reminder to slow down..
I’ve changed a lot since that weekend in Frankfurt. For one, I’m much better at cooking. I’m also more resilient, I have more faith in myself and I understand very basic German.
As I’m sure most of us are, I am struggling a bit with the challenges that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. Lockdowns, social limitations, a looming feeling of uncertainty and inability to make plans more than a week in advance for fear of laws changing. I’m currently completing a maths degree via lectures on zoom. I miss the library and cheer training and socialising without the worry that one of us is carrying a deadly virus.
Despite ¾ of my twenty second year around the sun being affected by coronavirus, the most defining feature of this year for me, has been the friends I’ve made along the way. At pre-pandemic parties, train stations, bars, work, and online. People who have reminded me that I am not alone on this chaotic spinning globe. That for better or worse, we get to experience this immensely difficult and very wonderful life together.
I have no idea what this next year will bring. I assume I will graduate, maybe I will get a grad job, or perhaps I will apply for further education. In 365 days, we may have a vaccine for coronavirus, or we might be no better off than we are now.
All I know is that today I will dance, and eat cake, and say a million thanks to everyone who has wished me a happy birthday (because it really has been) and I will take on every day of my twenty third orbit of the sun as it comes, with a glass of wine and a lot of gratitude.