If you know me in real life or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that last week I turned 22. I posted a picture with the obligatory Taylor Swift caption about feeling “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”
But if I’m being honest, I’m mostly just confused and lonely.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a great birthday that I spent with one of my closest friends at some of my favorite places, and my friends who couldn’t be there sent love from all over the world. I received so many heartfelt presents and kind words (and for someone whose love language is words of affirmation, sometimes that is truly the best gift!).
But overall I’ve felt like I have no direction. I don’t know what I want, and I am paralyzed by fear when anyone asks me about my goals, or my plans now that I’ve graduated, or why I moved back to New York, or if I’ll move to Austraia to be with Josiah–
Honestly, just writing down all of those things freaks me out! I have no idea what I’m doing and I feel like I should. When I look through old journal entries or at pictures from when I was 16, I don’t recognize that person. She knew what she wanted, she was willing to work hard to get there, and she made a plan so it would all come together. And she had a vision for the future. If you had asked 16-year-old Hannah what 22-year-old Hannah was up to, she would’ve said that I’d be married, settled down, working as a photographer, living the NYC dream.
I am none of those things, but I still cling to that identity that I imagined for myself so long ago, under such different circumstances. Sometimes who you thought you would be feels more real than who you actually are.
But in the midst of this emotional turmoil, I feel so grateful to have friends who remind me that it’s okay. They don’t know what they’re doing either. Even if they are married or have their dream job or live in the perfect apartment, there are still parts of their lives that are messy and painful and lonely. And, most important, that God is the only source of actual contentment, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
I am generally a private, guarded person, so it makes me very nervous to post these vulnerable thoughts on a blog that anyone I know (or don’t know) can read. But if it encourages even one person then it’s worth it. I don’t want anyone to look at my Instagram or blog and think I’m living some glamorous New York City dream life. I’m just working hard and doing my best, like you.