How Do You Measure A Year?


A former boss once said to me around Christmas time, “I’m not sure if you’re the kind of person who measures your years by calendar years or birthdays, but…” and went on to tell me how much I had grown in the previous calendar year as an employee. I probably should have paid more attention to the whole accomplishment thing, but instead I walked away pondering how I measure my years.

It’s an interesting thought.

Do I measure my years by my birthdays or new years? I’ve thought a lot about it ever since.

As of a few years ago, I started really subscribing to the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing. I began listing goals for myself for the calendar year ahead and sticking that list on the wall of my bedroom . As the year went by, it was a constant reminder of what I was working toward.

So, in a way, I do measure my years by the new year… or my goals anyway. However, birthdays have always carried more weight to me.

Birthdays say to me “Hey Alyson, you survived ANOTHER year on this crazy planet. Well done, kid. You’re making it.” They are a chance to reflect at how I’ve grown as a person during a season of life defined by a specific number – a number that I will never get back.

As I write this I am only two days out from my twenty-seventh birthday and I am very aware of the fact that I have two days left to fully enjoy being twenty six. I have two days left to reflect and think about what this age is teaching me while still in it.

What have I learned and how have I grown as a twenty-six year old?

Twenty six has been a constant effort to be present. To stay in the moment I am currently experiencing. I’ve found that takes control as well as as letting go.

It takes control to say “no” to whatever mistakes or expectations are brought to mind when I’m spending time with a friend or at a concert or at work. It takes work to press pause on my daydreams (because lemme tell ya, Walter Mitty and I go way back). It takes work to fully absorb the current moment and to simply be aware of what it is.

It also takes an element of “oh well” – a shrug of the shoulder and a deep sigh in which I let go of all the expectations I have for myself. To realize, “THIS is now. You can either choose to be here, absorb the moment and invest in others present OR you can worry. You can’t have it both ways.”

Twenty six has taught me so much. The turbulence and inconsistency of the past year has made me more vulnerable but somehow stronger at the same time.

Most days I don’t I feel like I’m in my late twenties. I tell myself, “Someone so close to the big 3-0 should know more about life than I do” . A 26-year-old should know how to adult, how to time manage. I should know how I can keep the apartment clean but not my own room.

I thought I’d have more figured out by now. I thought I’d be settled in a career and living in a beautiful home in the countryside with a wrap around porch by now. I never thought I’d struggle with so much doubt and financial inconsistency, but I also never dreamed I’d be here. Living in Los Angeles and pursuing a dream such as writing.

My life is so much fuller and richer than I could have ever dreamed and I am so insanely grateful for it and the people who make it a life. Even though it’s beyond difficult some days, I’m so glad God told me to move to Los Angeles that cold winter night in Scotland.

Twenty six has been inconsistent, freeing and filled with new people and new patterns of life. It’s been a little more stable than the early twenties and I’m excited for even more stability in twenty seven as I continue navigating adulthood, relationships and a career in writing.

I know everything is relative when it comes to age, however others have repeatedly told me that twenty-seven is a great year. There is more stability in knowing yourself and how you react in different situations. There is more assurance in knowing what you do and don’t want. There is peace in being a little farther removed from the chaos that follows graduating college, navigating a new city and a career in entertainment.

With that said, I’m grateful to twenty-six and all you’ve taught me. It’s truly been grand…but I’m so BEYOND ready for twenty-seven. 🙂



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