This is what 23 looks like (continued).

Typically, the days (in reality, weeks) leading up to my birthday are rife with anticipation. Am I ready to leave my current age behind, did I make the most of this past year of existence, what will it feel like to say I’m twenty-four, not twenty-three, etc.

The thing is, this year, I didn’t really have any of this anticipation. And I think that’s because I feel like I’m actually doing what I need to be doing. That I’m right where I need to be.

At this same time last year, I was a bit of a mess. I was twenty-two, going on twenty-three, but it didn’t feel like that at all. It felt like I had somehow skipped past my twenties. This will do a terrible job of explaining it but to me, it seemed like the rush and excitement that is a natural constant in your life in your twenties – when you have no idea what the next week will bring you, much less the next year – had escaped me. Instead, I was left with routine and habit, and this sinking feeling that dug deep into the very core of my being that I knew what my life would look like from here on out. I felt stagnant, and a little bit trapped.

A few weeks after my birthday, I made some changes. I moved out of the apartment I shared with my boyfriend at the time and into a house with five dudes I’d met on Craigslist. I made new friends. I kept old friends. I threw myself into projects and situations in which I felt enormously uncomfortable (meeting new people, eeek). I came back to my old relationship and then left it for a second time, which was one of the most painful, yet necessary things we could have done. I traveled. I drank beer. I brewed beer. I continued meeting new people.

And as a result, in the weeks prior to turning twenty-four, I didn’t give my age a single thought. Although there was a lot of confusion and a few tears shed, the word I most associate with this year is “exhilarating”. It feels like I’m exactly where I need to be, making things up as I go.