I am twenty-three and sometimes I have to remind myself of this.
Last night I went out with my chosen family members and I told my best friend, “Tonight we won’t talk about work. Tonight we shall drink, laugh, and not think too much.” I was committed to doing this because October has been a beautiful but demanding month for me.
I was seventeen when I started my dance company. I remember how much doubt people kept throwing my way. I was too young. I lacked experience. I would not get far. It was through this experience that I learned that my young age had nothing to do with my dreams or my ambition. In order to prove the naysayers wrong, I had to learn quickly what it meant to grab a sit at the table and hold my own. I did not have the ability to be carefree, I didn’t get to party much or do things that are typical for folks who are in my age bracket.
Now at twenty-three, the same mindset remains with me. I’m constantly working—and what’s been the hardest thing to grapple with is how difficult it’s been to get by financially despite the fact that I am constantly working on my craft, my dreams, and my purpose. But this is what every artist experience, the grind for the passion before the passion allows us to reach a point of sincere stability.
The work I do isn’t a job for me; it’s not even a career. This is my LIFE-work, the reason why I believe I survived being born premature at 5 ½ months, weighing in at one pound. I did not survive those conditions just so that I could get by in life; I believed I survived because I was meant to strive to live a purpose-driven life.
At twenty-three I know the Universe has blessed me in such profound ways. I have had opportunities I could not have dreamt of and every day that I get to do my LIFE-work is a day where I feel the most alive. However, six years after I started my company, I’m starting to realize how important it is to my wellbeing to create spaces where I can just be twenty-three. To be able to laugh, joke, and not feel the weight of responsibility to help every person who reaches out to me. To be able to say:
Tonight I am only 23.
Tonight I am not thinking about anything work related.
Tonight I am not thinking about the men who didn’t appreciate me.
Tonight I am not grieving for the lost friends.
Tonight I’m not trying to speak fabulously.
Tonight I wanna be just 23.
To my fellow early 20s folks who are committed to the LIFE-work, remember to make time to live in the moment and to enjoy your twenties because after that we will only know what it means to be in our thirties, and so forth.