22 Years of Joy Walks In

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Through pain comes an inexplicable awareness of the meaning of true happiness.

When I look back on being 21, above is a short, one sentence summary on how I feel about it (if you’d like to just stop here before I get into the good stuff). In the past year, I see a woman who, after finding great inner peace and tools to self-care her way out of any tough situation, was put to the ultimate test. I can surely reflect on my 21st year of life and think, “wow, that was a total mess.” But I know better than that. Instead I am proud, knowing that without these experiences, I wouldn’t be one step closer to being the warrior woman I am destined to be. Without these experiences, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the blessings I will receive from the Universe in my future. After all, my name, Ayorinde, means “joy walks in,” and it’s a constant reminder of who I truly am inside, no matter what the circumstance.

Here’s what I learned this year.

Be Independent.

I’ve been single for almost a year now, and it’s the longest time I’ve ever been independent of a partner since I was in high school. Though my breakup was tough, I finally learned how to be alone; something I knew I needed to do for a long time. Now, instead of looking for my next distraction, I love how content I feel when I get time alone, working on myself or my projects. The best feeling though? Spreading out in bed with no one else to worry about when I go to sleep at night! I’m comfortable enough with myself to know that I will be back in a relationship when it’s time for me to be. Until then, I am perfectly happy enjoying my own company, exploring myself and what I’m passionate about.

Stand Strong.

  Photo by:    @13jray   .

Photo by: @13jray.

I witnessed the #MeToo movement become viral as women across the world stood up for themselves, finding strength in speaking their truth. I watched as the hashtag flooded my timeline, struck by the amount of women who joined in to voice the mental and physical pain that had been inflicted upon them. A few months later, and two months ago to this day, I was inducted into that same group of women. I was sexually assaulted. Through the waves of confusion, denial, fear, and at times uncontrollable grief, I found my own voice and stood up to my attacker. It was the single strongest moment I’d ever had in my life.

Move Mindfully.

Prior to turning 21, I either had a really unhealthy relationship with exercise, or none at all. This year I fell deeply in love with yoga and learned what it meant to actually enjoy exercising instead of feeling like it was a chore. For once, I found happiness in watching my muscles grow instead of trying to figure out if I was losing any weight. It has been such an empowering experience to closely connect my mind and body, witness the shift in my energy after practicing, and continue on the journey of body love.

Explore Your Passions.

Throughout my college career, I’ve worked in both tech marketing and venture capital. As I’m finishing up my last job and heading into my final semester of college, I’m reflecting on what types of work I truly care about and feel fulfilled in. Right now, I’m incredibly drawn towards community work and empowering women of color. Though those two things don’t exactly make a ton of money, something I’ve been trying to figure out is how I can incorporate more of that into my life, even if it’s not my occupation. It truly is all about making sure you do at least some of what you love, whether you make a career out of it or not.

 More than anything, I love being out in nature. Spending most of my time outside? A dream come true.

More than anything, I love being out in nature. Spending most of my time outside? A dream come true.

Cultivate Love.

Finding love within myself began as a huge challenge, and now that I have it, it’s something I hold incredibly dear. This year might not have been the easiest, but through every difficult situation, I found a way to power through and find connection to my spirit. Through self-love, and the belief that everyone around me deserves love, I was equipped to pull myself out of some of the deepest holes I’ve been in. I am SO proud of myself for that!

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Here’s to 22.

This year, I'm welcoming a new chapter into my life. I’m opening my heart to love, in both romance and friendship. I'm fearlessly navigating through any mental struggle that comes my way and bringing myself closer to my heart center. I’m trusting the divine path that the Universe has set for me. I am accepting my blessings with open arms. This past year I blazed my own trail through tough lessons, pain, and loss. On the other side of it, I am a proud and more vibrant light than I have ever been before. 

To my family, my best friends, and anyone else who has been of tremendous support in my life, I thank you, and I will never stop appreciating you.

I have never been so ready to kick off a new age. 22: I'm ready for ya.