If 26 was about pure survival (thanks pandemic), this year was an attempt to figure out what life looked like in a new normal.

Goodness, I’m so sick of that term, “the new normal.” Not that it was perfect, but the year leading up into the pandemic was a pretty good one for me. This past year, 27, was definitely better than 26.

I spent all of 27 working from home, exercising from home, writing from home, living at home. My 610 sq ft apartment was basically my world. I spent all year wondering, will we ever go back to the office or am I stuck here indefinitely? (and two days before my birthday, they announced we’re going 100% remote).

But I finally got to get out, too, and this year, I got my vaccination. This summer, just before Delta hit, I went to a store without a mask. It was target on a Wednesday afternoon, so there was no one there anyways.

Then a week later, I was back with my masks. While I’ve felt like the last few years have seen me go through highs and lows in my personal life, this pandemic has been one of the craziest highs and lows I’ve lived through.

This year was a year I made new friends (courtesy of my boyfriend) and got a social circle from it. This year was the year I listened to my body – I went to a few massages, I got those vaccines and I found a new thyroid doctor to help me get that sucker under control.

It was also a year where I grieved. After almost 13 years, we had to say goodbye to my childhood pup, after they found a tumor in her. Living away from home, I didn’t know she was sick until she had passed. Going home to my parents’ house just isn’t quite the same anymore without her.

I pushed myself to ask myself what I want and to try and have conversations around my needs. For so long, I’ve been a person who decided that if I couldn’t meet my own needs, they weren’t needs. Being in a relationship has definitely broken that notion, because there are things my boyfriend gives me I never could give myself.

27 saw me lose rights, pushed me to wonder “what do I do without the lights on?” and having to think every single time I leave my house “is this something I should wear a mask for or will I be okay?”

While 27 definitely had some rough moments, not all of them were. I did get my vaccination, which feels like a big accomplishment. I rediscovered my love of the pool and water this summer, and when I was working the weekends, I was out at the pool many days a week. In addition to finding my little fins again, I finally relaunched my books with new covers, and I’ve been wanting to do that for a few years now. Even in the hard days, there is still magic to be found.

If I had to describe 27 in one word, it would be “here.” With the pandemic changing daily, it’s hard to plan for the future. It’s hard to know when things will change for the better, and just in this last week, I’ve gotten news that really changes how I think about my future.

Maybe it’s the therapy I’ve done in the last year, but even when shit tried to fall apart, I feel like it was better at 27 than at 26. This “new normal” feels normalish, now? If 26 was the year I had to take everything apart and go onto autopilot, 27 was the year I found how to make my own space in it. Now, as we get to the hopeful end of this pandemic, I can see myself trying to make a clearer space in what I can do.

I hope 28 is the year I really flourish in it.

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