26. In mathematics, 26 is the only integer that is one greater than a square (52 + 1) and one less than a cube (33 − 1). In science, it is the atomic number of iron. In sports, it is the number of complete miles in a marathon. And in my life, it was the most challenging number to-date. Today, I got to finally close the 26th chapter of my life, and while this was the year where I learned and grew the most, it was the year that challenged me, the year that defined me and the year that almost broke me(but it didn’t, of course ;)).
We as human beings like being comfortable and secure – its human nature. We hate change and are resilient to it. However, there is nothing more constant in life than change, a lesson that I had to learn for myself this year. I have gone back and forth about how to describe my 26th year of life for a month now, and a friend helped me figure out the analogy of how I should see it. I love doing store openings for our UD stores – the thrill of opening day and the energy that it brings, is the high that I wait for. I look forward to opening day so much, that I don’t mind the work that goes into the months leading up to it, and especially the night before. The night before when there is no sleep, I am up on my feet for a full day straight, lifting boxes, organizing stock and stressing my brains off. However, when those doors open the next morning, and the people come rushing it, I usually have a little cry and I am so happy at how everything came together. Well I am choosing to see 26 as the night before a big store opening – it was laying down the groundwork, up until late at night, so that 27 can be the morning of the opening, happy and cheerful!
Let’s start with the positives – in my 26th year of life I opened four new countries for myself. I visited Zanzibar in January, Czech Republic in April, Reunion Island in July, and most recently Cyprus in August. I also had multiple trips to Cape Town, which have been the best thing about 26 – being in the Mother City, visiting one of my best friends while drinking wine, and looking at the ocean have been my best memories of this year. This last trip to Cape Town in August will always hold a very special memory in my heart, because we laughed, and laughed, and laughed (and cried a bit) for 2 weeks straight. I also visited Moscow twice this year to see my family, so overall, the travelling journey of 26 was good! I am beyond thankful for the opportunities to explore foreign lands, and I hope that I get to keep exploring more countries at 27.
I don’t like to reminisce on negatives, but they happened. However, I choose to see them in a positive light, and as learnings of this tough year. The first time, since I was 19, I found myself to be many things at once – single, living on my own and incredible lonely. While I don’t regret the choices that I made that led me to that decision, it was still hard, and one of the hardest parts was getting over my fear of being alone (physically and emotionally). It has only been a couple of months since the change, but I’ve been doing much better – I have had to learn that I need to be enough for myself. It is not an easy step to achieve, and I work on it every day, but I no longer feel scared of my own company and my own emotions, and I see that as a big step forward for me.
Of course going through a breakup is not an uncommon thing, and millions of people experience it every day and move on. And I am moving on, one day at a time. What I learned is that life-altering situations like this really do always show you who your real friends are. Who is with you for the long haul, while who is only passing in transit. And, the sad thing is, sometimes you think someone is playing a main role in your life, and they just turn out to be a cameo. I have lost friendships before, everyone has at some stage. However, the friendship that I lost this year hit me hard, but also came with another learning – you can’t expect people to treat you the same way that you would treat them. Just because you gave your time and your effort to a friendship when they needed it, does not mean they will give you back the same. And that’s is okay. Because while someone might fade out of your life unexpectedly, it leaves room for a new friendship to grow and blossom. I made a wonderful friendship out of this horrible situation, and my other friendships were further solidified. Honestly, I do not know how I would have made it through out the last 4 months without my special people by my side. They showed me that yes, life will serve you some lemons, but there were there to help me make lemonade (more like wine, but you know what I mean ;))
I am opening the 27th chapter of my life today full of hope. I am hoping that 26 was the ground laying year for what is about to be the most blossoming year of my life. I am thankful for the hard lessons that the past year served me because it brought me to this point in my life. As cliché as it sounds, I closed a massive door, and I believe that another three are about to open. Which door will I take? I really don’t’ know, but I know that it will be filled with the most beautiful people and experiences that will stay with me forever. And love. I know that 27 will be all about love, and I can’t wait to find it again.