"I see you."
I turned 25 this month.
And I know what you'll tell me. I'm still young, right? I have my whole life ahead of me. Well, the sentiment is appreciated, but I'd be lying if I said that's what I want to hear.
The city is on the brink of change. Ginkgo trees are already touched with the slightest hints of yellow. And when the sun retreats at night, its presence no longer lingers. Instead, a cool breeze glides through, making its way into open windows, pushing the hair from my face as I sip coffee and type.
I feel that I'm on the brink of change, too. And it's change I would readily dive into, if given the chance. Over the years, I've conjured up a restlessness within myself that I'd like to think is healthy. But I'm learning that in your mid-twenties, things you want don't come quickly.
I've never been one to wish away the seasons of life. Dwelling in each one, you're greeted by surprises, turns, relationships, lessons. Beauty can only truly be experienced in the present, right?
And it's true, I've listened to enough songs and watched enough movies centered around the theme to know better than to wish time away... just cue John Mayer's "Stop This Train." And yet, I've never felt more ready for a stage to pass.
Recently, I watched one of my boss' studio interviews where she spoke to Alyssa Milano and Debbie Ryan. The conversation ranged, from talk of #MeToo to the supportive environment on set, but there was one part of the interview, particularly, which resonated with me. The two actresses seemed connected by a very real struggle they both faced. Having started their careers from young ages, Milano talked about how hard she had to fight to be seen as a woman, not as the young child star she once was.
And I feel that. I have ambitions that are, of course, larger than my current age. I don't have five years of working experience, but that doesn't mean that I'm not willing to work and fight for the passions and desires I have in my career. I have this unsettling feeling at times that my age keeps me from being taken seriously... a feeling I thought I left behind in high school.
But it sits with me. Every story I produce, every video I cut, every word I write, I find myself feeling that each is an attempt to prove myself—prove that I'm cut out for an industry that insists I need a few more years under my belt before the training wheels come off.
Now, don't get me wrong, I've been graced by the opportunities I've been given. And I fully understand that everyone, in every industry, must pay their dues. But the burden of my own critic, the weight of my own restlessness, makes it difficult to simply enjoy this season of my life.
Summer is coming to an end and, of course, she's done this on her own accord. You can't force the sun to let up any sooner. Cool autumn days come when they come, no matter how ready you are for that jean jacket weather.
Surrendering control to life's seasons can be a difficult and at times frustrating experience. But this stage in my life only passes once. Instead of weighing myself daily against what I want to be and dwelling more on my colleagues' perceptions of me than my belief in myself, I need to step back, be present and know that each day is a step in the right direction.
At 25, I thought I would have done more. My creative writing's been on the back burner as I search for more opportunities in freelance. I watch music videos and documentaries and dream of the projects I hope to produce.
So yes, it's true that I don't want to hear I have my whole life ahead of me. But, I suppose I do. My sleepless nights aren't going to rush this stage along any more than placing a pumpkin on my porch would force fall to hurry on its way. I may as well enjoy this season of my life and know that others are in store.
Milano goes on in the interview to tell Ryan, 25, she sees her for the woman she is. The former Disney Channel "Jessie" star isn't just a child in Milano's eyes. And that's what I want, that's what I long for: to be seen.
People won't always stop and tell you they see you. Some even will, but you won't believe what they say. You'll be too fixated on your own self-dialogue to hear the truth in their words.
Contentment in life's many stages looks very different to different people. I'd be naive to think there was a single formula or that my own will happen overnight.
But I'm learning that my own lightness of spirit will only start the moment I stop telling myself that I am not seen.
And for anyone else who feels this way, whether you're on your 5th job application or your 50th; whether you're "still" an assistant or "still" waiting for that big job promotion, I hope you don't believe the lie that no one sees you. Life's biggest blessings, I've found, are the kind, encouraging spirits around you. For every negative thought you're willing to tell yourself, there are people seeing so many more positives within you.
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Enjoying and learning from this chapter as the pages turn