2023: Year of the Wild Child

Unofficial mascot of 2023 Allison

You know how age is supposed to mellow us out and calm us down? That might be true for the majority, but I can confirm there’s always a deviation from the norm.

I’m the deviant, Reader-Friends.

Back in 2017, when I had just turned 25, I dubbed that year the Year of the Lady, since I was feeling that shift of no longer being the sorta-knowing, mostly-clueless early 20-something. I was finally feeling my age, like a real adult. During the tumultuous times when I was a kid, I used to fantasize about adulthood and being a grown woman just so I could have the ability to take myself to better places – and the agency to tell a cad to jump in a lake if they weren’t acting right by me. I didn’t even care about bills and all the daily stresses the other adults would complain about – I just wanted the freedom to be myself and become the woman I always wanted to be.

I also had this idea I was going to be a modern-day Eliza Doolittle, minus Henry Higgins telling me what to do. I think I just wanted either Audrey Hepburn’s black and white Ascot dress, or Audrey Hepburn’s bejeweled white gown she wore to the embassy ball. Actually, I still want that white gown, or rather the willowy figure to pull it off.

The Audrey Hepburn makeover part didn’t happen in 2017.

2018 became the Year of The Broad. I renamed the blog and my Instagram account to The Broad Running Broad since running had evolved from fun hobby to crazy passion. To date, this is still my favorite year. I was running my fastest paces. OldJob was still enjoyable (oh how 2019 and 2020 smacked me right in the kisser), and I was dipping my toes into online dating and incredibly enough, it wasn’t terrible. I felt alive and like my most authentic, happiest version of myself.

2019 was The Year of Being In Love, and running four marathons since it was Year #4 of running. In hindsight running four full marathons in the same year was pretty stupid, although I’m still glad I did it.

2020 and 2021 were challenging for everyone – I don’t even have a word assigned to them, aside from “crap.” And 2022 was a year of sorrow and having to save myself at the tail end. From the sorrow and survival mode I was able to reconnect to myself and finally break through feeling like a ghost in my own skin. Life was happening around me, and I knew I was present physically, but ghost mode had me so discombobulated and turned inward that I might as well have been an apparition, not really there or with the people around me. I don’t want to sound like a broken record into the new year, but looking back … man, I’m glad to be on the other side and to have the “firsts” of grief throughout 2022 behind me.

So now we’re finally to today, the second day of 2023. I’m newly 31 and feeling all the magic that comes with being a woman in her 30s, of knowing a few things but also knowing I’ve still got a lot to learn. And most importantly, I know who I am, with there being no need to downplay it or apologize. The goal of saving myself late last year was to eventually get reconnected to myself and remember who I am.

Reader-Friends, at 31 years old, I’m re-emerging as a wild child.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had this kind of energy back, and even longer since I’ve had this kind of faith and optimism for what the year ahead can hold. I’m back to running with the wind, bicycling on those back roads that remind me of the roads I used to take when I was a teenager. There’s very little cares, no time for the ‘fraidy cat “what ifs” and ready to barrel my way through walls like the Kool-Aid Man. There’s so much to see and experience, and the world is large, sometimes a little intimidating and beautiful. It’s mine to claim, to explore and to go a little wild in.

There’s new states to race in, and new-to-me state parks I want to hike. I’m already daydreaming about hitting up a flower field in the late spring, and Mom told me that she wants to go ziplining sometime before her time comes to cross over (me note: this is a euphemism because I don’t want anyone thinking my mom is in declining health/getting the wrong idea). Luckily for her, I know a place. I’m looking forward to jumping in pools and lakes without the weird, manufactured body insecurities women are supposed to have, just like a child who sees water and couldn’t care about anything else but swimming to the deep end. There’s no time to indulge insecurities and speculate on what strangers are thinking. 95 percent of the time they’ve got their own lives to think about and aren’t thinking about anyone else at all. What’s the point of worrying?

The wild child doesn’t have the time or interest to sweat the small stuff, and sees the adventure in the everyday. Sure, there’s always a potential you could fall down and scrape your legs up. But then you’ve got a funny story for later and strangers will think the bandage came from doing something more impressive than the truth, which is always amusing. There’s little for the wild child to fear.

To sum it up, the Year of the Wild Child is about letting go of the petty stuff, of old hurts and adopting that simple optimism that the possibilities are endless. The adventure awaits and I’ll be damned if I’m going to miss out on any of it. Here’s to 2023 – the maturely immature year, of bounding through life’s walls like the Kool-Aid Man and always finding the beauty and joy in everything.

Yours in writing and life,

Allison

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