reflecting on 28 years around the sun.
In the last 5 years, I feel like I’ve undergone a complete transformation of who I am. It happened slowly at first, and then all at once. The transformation was not just physical, as you may have read about in blog posts like 4-to-16. The most important change has been to my character and personality.
I used to not be a very good person. I do believe the core of me was always good, but it’s safe to say that that part was buried deep under a lot of crap, mostly from my upbringing. I had this realization rather recently, while looking at 2016 group text from me to my family during the holidays. I sent my mom, aunts, and father an incredibly rude message demanding money for Christmas so that I could keep up with my Ivy League friends. I specifically stated that I did not want their presents, specifically citing an example of a gift my mother gave me that was “the wrong thing.”
I did not consider that they might have had thoughtful gifts that they wanted to give me. I offered no compassion if they couldn’t afford to give me money for college.
This is only one poignant example, but there are plenty. I used to be so competitive that I wouldn’t help others in school who needed my help. I used to swear constantly at my parents and sisters. I thought I was leading them by example with my grades and accolades, when I should’ve been leading with character instead.
I remember a pivotal moment when the change started to occur. My “core,” which is found in my upper stomach/diaphragm area, is like a second brain to me. I feel things there. It knows things. Some people call it a “gut.” In 2019, I had just gone through an awful breakup. Previously, my core was fiery and unyielding—this same fire that was referenced in my College Essay, one I thought was inextinguishable. When the breakup occurred, I felt something break. The fire was gone; nothing was there. I did not know what was happening, and whatever it was, I did not think that I would recover from it.
Only after years of therapy, healing, and building relationships, did I notice something new in my core one day. This time, however, it was no longer a raging fire—but a gentle, warm light. Soft, glowing, supple. Knowing and evolved.
Speaking of fires, this leads me to my hopelessly nerdy example of Fawkes the Phoenix from Harry Potter. As someone who watches Harry Potter way too often for a 28-year-old adult, let me remind you of this particularly powerful minor character. In the second story (the Chamber of Secrets), Harry enters Dumbledore’s office and encounters a Phoenix. It bursts into flames and—naturally—Harry is alarmed. Dumbledore explains to Harry that Fawkes “dies” periodically by catching fire, and then is reborn among his own ashes.
I feel reborn on this birthday. Fittingly enough, the 2024 calendar year is exactly the same as it was in 1996—the year that I was born. And on Tuesday, January 16, 1996, it snowed, just like it did on Tuesday, Jan 16, 2024. (The historical weather data from 1996 doesn’t actually back this up, but let’s pretend, for the sake of synchronicity, that it does.)
My relationship with Jack has been fundamental to this evolution. He showed me unconditional love and grace; dwelling in this has allowed me to heal. Even more broadly, my relationships with my family and friends are stronger than ever before. I used to find it difficult to make and keep friends, but not anymore. My character has improved, and my personality is a lot easier to get along with (so I’ve been told). And to friends and family who are still here and reading this, after all this time and growth on my end: thank you for sticking by me. Thanks for dealing with my shit. Thank you for believing there was a good person underneath all that baggage. I see you, I appreciate you, and I love you.