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The Year I Grew Up

To most adults who I interact with, I am “very young.”

But for some reason, I feel like I’ve already lived a thousand lifetimes. I just feel old. Things are hurting already. Ha!

In 2019, I turned 26 – on February 26th. Since it was the fabled “golden birthday” dubbed by fellow millennials as something to revel in, I immediately thought it would be the year something drastic would happen. Indeed it did, just not as I had planned.

In the summer, my grandmother passed away, which was incredibly difficult for my family, and my Dad, who lost his mom. On a Sunday morning in September, I found myself sobbing at the altar reciting the eulogy in front of 50 close friends and family that I must have practiced some two hundred times, but was forced to read off the paper at that moment:

“…Today, I encourage you not to mourn so much as to give and be kind. Share [her] light back into the world. I think the best way to celebrate someone’s life is to continue practicing all the qualities you loved about them. Be kind, love endlessly, forgive, smile, and laugh. And most importantly, … be good to yourself.” Be good to yourself was one of the last things my late grandfather told me before he passed.

Most of my life I’ve practiced being a confident atheist, but this year I really found myself becoming spiritual. At the altar I felt warm beams of light, like Nana’s soft white curls that hung in a perfect bob around her face. Like certain songs you listen to that bring you to tears, that light was curling and sparkling down from the ceiling of the church, trickling down to grace my shoulders and warm my cheeks. There was no light, just a sudden realization; an epiphany maybe – it all felt like something otherworldly. 

The warmth of long missed family, older sisters and far away grandmothers held over through the next week. It felt so calm. Driving back from the celebration of life I felt light. Family is eternal.

A new coworker turned best friend had lit up my life in the last 8 months, and she brought something long lost to the table: confidence. Through her, I remembered who I was. What I loved. What I didn’t love. I began to speak up more. To believe in myself. The magic of confidence in any situation is grounding. It changed so many aspects of my life it’s hard to describe it all. Ultimately she saved me from the shallow shell of the life I could have lived and reminded me of the life I could obtain if I really invested in my dreams. Confidence changes everything. A good friend can save your life.

Lastly, I started practicing manifestation/visualization of my goals and dreams. Now, bear with me here. Every day at work I would take a walk during my lunch. Listen to my favorite songs, and play in my mind what it would feel like to achieve my goals. Becoming financially independent – debt free – travel – enjoy life a little more. I did it every day, and then… it just started happening. My life started happening, the way I envisioned it. Every little detail. I left no room for doubt, I only filled in the gaps with immense gratitude for the progress made thus far and the privileges I had been given. And that was the formula for success. I’m snowballing towards my big goal of being debt free in July 2020, but the real progress started happening when I started believing that it could be no other way. Gratitude manifests blessings.

And here I am, soaring high on the endorphins of what it feels like to truly be happy and excited for life. I am so in love with every little piece of it right now. There’s always issues, there’s always set backs, there’s always emergencies – but my life is one big freaking miracle that I am ridiculously grateful for.

So, there you have it.

Be good to yourself.

Family is eternal.

Confidence changes everything. 

A good friend can save your life.

Gratitude manifests blessings.

My formula for happiness.

2019 was the year I grew up – the year I accepted “set backs” as lessons, the year I spoke up for myself, the year I set aside more time for family, the year I found gratitude for things I hated. The year I realized it’s the little things – not some big earth shattering revelation – that really matter most. I hope you take some advice from this millennial – I think by now, I know a thing or two.


  1. Lupe January 15, 2020

    Dear Hannah as I was reading your incredible manifesto I felt so proud of you, the story you have shared is of inspiration to others and I wish you the best as you continue to achieve your purpose.

  2. Charlene Swanson January 16, 2020

    Hannah it is all about growing. As I watch you through Facebook you have done a lot of growing. Unfortunately it’s not always a easy road! Your story warms my heart! You need to be you and do what you need for yourself. Your Grandmother was very wise with her words ( Be Good To Yourself ) Please Trust when I tell you She as many of us are proud of the Person you have become. Your formula is a beautiful one!
    Much Love,

  3. Bruce McEwen January 16, 2020

    I don’t know whether you are an angel or a genius — your essay is so beautifully crafted — but your “formula” comes from a very high place.

    {you may use my comment for a cover blurb on your book — pleaase tell me you’ll follow this up w/ a book!}

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