Another Trip Around the Sun Means That I’m 24: What I learned in My 23rd Year of Life

“I believe that birthdays are a pristine opportunity for self-reflection on what we’ve learned and done during our previous 365 rotating around the sun…You can’t stop time, but you can make the most of the time that you have.”

The last time I got a haircut before the pandemic — five months ago

Today, June 11, 2020 is my 24th birthday. To begin commemorating this, let’s dive back into the first birthday that I can remember celebrating: my third birthday.

It was the summer of 1999, and I had just turned three years old — I was a HUGE fan of Elmo and I was lucky enough to have Elmo join me at my birthday party which was held at our backyard in Massachusetts. I remember Elmo rounding the corner of our house walking toward me in the yard, and feeling a wave of sheer terror wash over me — Elmo was ENORMOUS. Not at all the small, friendly high-pitched puppet I had watched on Sesame Street every day!!

See? HUGE.

I promptly pivoted in the other direction away from Elmo and sprinted as fast as my three-year-old legs could carry me across the lawn directly into my Uncle John’s arms (Uncle John is a big dude — he was a college football player and definitely worthy of protecting me from the wrath of this oversized Elmo creature).

Oversize Elmo turned out to not be quite as terrifying as I has originally feared and there’s later video footage from the party of me dancing with this giant red fuzzball (terrifying) with all of my closest three-year-old friends.

Anyways, I believe that birthdays should be recognized as a special day for celebration because they mean that you’ve made it through another year– and therefore, most likely have some accomplishments to show for it. It’s like a mini national holiday for yourself and those who share your special day.

In the moment, a year feels like such a long amount of time: 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes. But when we look back on it long-term, it’s a pretty short amount of time in the grand scheme of the existence of humans and the universe and the Milky Way Galaxy and the universe and all of that.

Regardless, I believe that birthdays are a pristine opportunity for self-reflection on what we’ve learned and done during our previous 365 rotating around the sun. I’m reflecting a bit back on my own past 36(6) it was a leap year?!…) on Earth.

I know, I know — All I do is hike and drink coffee. I’m not disputing it

Molly’s 23rd Year of Life

In the past year, I moved to a better big-girl apartment with lots of windows and natural light (very important criteria. The only criteria, really) in a safer neighborhood in LA, celebrated my dad’s 50th birthday in Las Vegas with my wonderful family, flew to Florida to celebrate my grandparent’s 50th WEDDING anniversary in Miami with my wonderful extended family (no oversized Elmos were present at either of these events) I visited a dozen US National Parks including Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, and Mt. Rainier, and Joshua Tree (and Antelope Canyon which isn’t exactly a national park but is still insanely beautiful).

I transitioned out of my first full-time job out of college which was in luxury travel/hospitality PR, and into the editorial world — having the opportunity to work part-time as an editorial assistant for WhereTraveler LA, and on the marketing team for Unplug Meditation… but before leaving I was able to travel with the company to New York City and experience it’s vibrant and diverse culture (and bagels).

I also busted my way into the world of professional freelance writing — even getting (lucky? I like to think there was some skill involved too) the chance to write for a few big name, national outlets like Travel + Leisure, Business Insider, Laguna Beach Magazine, Living Lavishly Magazine and more…

Click here to see my full writing portfolio

Networking while I was in-between jobs during the fall of 2019 gave me the opportunity to meet countless talented professional writers and media industry professionals who were generous enough to share their time and wisdom with me, and I was grateful to be able to cultivate lasting relationships with them for my future in freelance writing.

Additionally, I earned my professional spin instructor certification and well — didn’t really get the chance to use it yet this year as there’s still a global pandemic, but I’m working on it…

I started going to a therapist for the first time, because I believe that therapy is an enormously helpful way to help you break down your internal issues and understand why you respond to external stressors the way that you do — I was given invaluable tools to combat the stresses that are inevitable throughout everyday life.

Also while I was in-between full-time jobs, I started making beautiful, bohemian-style jewelry again for my Etsy shop, BeautyTransformed, from which I donate 10% of every purchase toward NAMI: the National Alliance on Mental Illness (CHECK OUT MAH ETSY SHOP, HERE!)

In January of 2020 I started my second full-time job at NJF PR as an Account Executive, which was an incredible learning experience that allowed me to travel for work on behalf of a client for my first time — and although I enjoyed my brief time with my LA NJF team and the company very much, it was cut short due to the pandemic and the massive layoffs that have shaken the entire travel and hospitality industries.

COVID hit in the ninth month of my 23rd year, and everything with respect to the pandemic from then on, watching the world tear each other apart to panic buy toilet paper, getting screamed at in my own neighborhood by a (mask-less) man about how I should be wearing a mask while I’m out jogging — and everything else has escalated so rapidly and haphazardly that it’s been a great lesson for me in terms of gaining patience and understanding toward how you cannot control everything (as much as my anxiety tries to make me do this). For example, I applied for unemployment eight weeks ago in mid-April and I haven’t heard a single word or received a single dime from the EDD.

After getting laid off like 40+ million other Americans, I pivoted back toward freelance writing, and I’m currently working on the “COVID Chronicles” series on my website, which tells the stories of the challenges that we’re facing as a human species worldwide in response to the pandemic and showcases the resilience of those who are pushing through (let me know if you’d like to share your own story!). I’d like to eventually turn this project into a book, and become a published author.

Alongside the pandemic, international protests against police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement have been picking up momentum and have served as another example of how my 23rd year has educated me about the world firsthand.

In conclusion: you can’t stop time, but you can make the most of the time that you have. I like to think that I live my life in a way that makes the most of the time I’ve been given (so far), and I’ll continue to do it this way until I don’t have any life left to live…

I’m so grateful to have such generous friends and family to celebrate life with…

Sincerely, a now 24 year old Molly who just ate an entire edible arrangement of strawberries and pineapple with a side of a Magnolia Bakery banana pudding, washed down with a large latte. Happy Birthday to ME...

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2 thoughts on “Another Trip Around the Sun Means That I’m 24: What I learned in My 23rd Year of Life

  1. Clare Kovalcik June 11, 2020 — 7:23 pm

    Terrific read, Molly! Enjoyed it! Very well written….I think you have a future in journalism. Happy, happy Birthday! Love you and so proud of you!

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