On Being Twenty-Three (And Adopting a New Life Philosophy)

The following was featured on http://www.vickiboykis.com/ as a guest post on September 4th. (Click here to see the original.)

Most people think of spring as a time of renewal. But for me, it’s always been fall that signifies things beginning anew: fall brings with it the beginning of school years, the Jewish New Year and my birthday. This triumvirate has caused the end of August / beginning of September to be a period of much reflection of who I am, who I’ve been, who I’m trying to become. What was I able to accomplish in the last year? What things do I need to work on? You get the idea…

This past year, the 23rd year of my life, was a rollercoaster filled with a lot of happiness but a lot of sadness as well. I made the hard decision to move away from my family, coworkers and roommates who were great friends, and I job I loved to see whether DC living would be as fun as I imagined. (And it has been!) I’ll always think of this past year as the year my world was rocked by the death of my grandmother. But it will also be remembered as the year I travelled, dated some great guys (and some not so great guys), and tried my hand at things like white water tubing and PHP coding all the while widening my support network and strengthening existing friendships…

Through it all I’ve solicited and been given a lot of advice. And there’s one nugget of (overheard) wisdom that has stayed with me; in fact, I think about almost daily. This magical phrase has in some ways changed my whole outlook on who I aim to become:

Consider everything and nothing a date.

Take a minute to fully take that statement in. Reread it. Now, let me elaborate:
(Hint: the advice applies to everyone, whether you are in a relationship or not!)

Consider everything a date. When we date, we take the time to put on a great outfit, make sure our hair/makeup looks great, etc. Before, during, and after, we are usually on our best behavior. Simply put, considering everything a date translates to an attempt to be at our best at all times.

Consider nothing a date. Dates are really fun – most of the time – but they do bring a certain level of anxiety. Some of the best dates are those that come together without pre-planning because there isn’t any pressure on the situation to be anything but what it is. Considering nothing a date means being in the moment and not worrying about things that are out of our control.

Achieving the attitudes I’ve described above is a lofty goal, I admit, thanks to a little thing called human nature, which tempts us to be lazy, jealous, obsessive, etc. But remembering The Date Principle has provided me with a framework through which I can strive to become a better person – which is how I measure the success of a given year. (Yes, I consider age 23 a success and hope I can say the same of age 24.)

However you define your “new year” – whether by calendar, age, academic level, or religion – may the next one bring only the best for all of us.