23 Things About Being 23

Happy Birthday to me!

I often find that reflecting when my birthday comes around is just as cathartic as the new year, so of course I’d love to share it with y’all. I made a list of things that I’ve either learned, accomplished, or experienced as a 23-year old, as well as what some of my related ambitions are for the upcoming year. There are so many folks who dwell on their age, and get too concerned with what is supposed to be associated with that number and how and when those things are going to happen. But for me, every year has presented itself with new challenges and triumphs, and regardless of how old you are, there’s always room to learn more. Plus, I’m actually still a child in the grand scheme of things, so I’m looking forward to all of the years I still have to learn even more. So here we go: 23 things about being 23.

  1. You’re constantly inspired by people who are younger than you. Work as closely with them as you can. Whether that’s as a mentor, as an ally, or an involved activist, their vision of the future is certain to give you hope. Stay inspired, listen, and help however you can.
  2. You realize you need to start balancing your love/hate relationship with social media. You’ve done a great job learning to put the phone down and spend less time refreshing the same apps over and over again. Let’s keep doing that and really consider where you want to focus your energy and attention.
  3. There’s a family health scare that forces you to regroup in a lot of ways. It helps you further understand just how far you’ve come in the past few years, and that’s good. But it also gets you thinking about how nothing is permanent, which isn’t as good in the moment, but you’ll keep growing from it.
  4. You tried to start writing another book. It didn’t go well. You gave yourself a challenge to write the roughest draft possible in the month of November and it wasn’t right for you. When you’re ready, and in your own time, take a look at those pages you did manage to write and see what it inspires you to do next. Just make sure you keep writing.
  5. You turn into an actual grandma with back and hip pain. This means you can’t run, so you need to find other outlets for stress relief. It’s really, really difficult, because there are so few things that satisfy you the way running does. Still navigating this one. Stay tuned.
  6. You’re very aware when you’re the only queer person in a room. This isn’t going to go away, probably ever, but there’s definitely steps you can take to make it happen less often. Continue looking for your queer spaces.
  7. Bullet journaling has changed your life.
  8. You’re very confident in the fact that you don’t miss college like everyone said you would.
  9. You also don’t like drinking alcohol like everyone said you would. And that’s okay. It’s another part of who you are that you shouldn’t feel pressured to change.
  10. You accept that you have very strong Ravenclaw tendencies. You’re still very much a loud and proud Hufflepuff, it’s just that now you have a better understanding of what it means to have a little bit of all the house values inside you, and you’re figuring out which ones you treasure the most. But also…go badgers.
  11. You leave the East coast for the very first time. The West coast isn’t exactly your jam, but you get excited to visit again, and hope to visit even more places you’ve never been. Maybe you’ll even get to leave the country.
  12. You fall even more in love with New York, and learn that it’s going to take a lot for you to leave.
  13. Self care is more important now than it’s ever been. You’ve got a great new mantra: Resist. Recharge. Repeat. There are times when it feels impossible to get back up after getting knocked down. But you have gotten up. Every. Single. Time. Pay attention to your successes, because the fight is far from over. Don’t push yourself, but make sure you’re not standing still for too long.
  14. You meet a number of people who inspire you. For so long you’ve clung to the “don’t meet your heroes” mentality, and you’re starting to let that go in the communities you feel safest. You’ve got some great heroes. They love you. Really, they told you so. That’s pretty cool.
  15. Being an adult with an adult job suits you well. You are discovering what your strengths are, what you’re most passionate about, and you’re doing all you can to keep busy and fulfilled. If you want to keep doing all the things, that’s great. If not, that’s great, too. Either way, you’ve got plenty of time.
  16. Meditation is one of the most crucial tools you’ve collected in your life, and you get your 8th tattoo to keep yourself in check. In check with self love, self care, remaining present, working hard, and spreading kindness.
  17. You participate in your first ever protest. It’s scary and thrilling and empowering. You’re inspired to keep discovering new ways to make a dent. Don’t worry about its size – focus on its impact.
  18. You have to adjust your medication for the first time since you’ve started taking it. It’s still something you’re working on. And you’ll likely be working on it for a really long time, so try your best to be patient.
  19. You see Hedwig for the 8th and final time. It’s still your favorite show.
  20. You go to a nutritionist to figure out why you’re so damn hungry all the time. Surprise! You gotta eat more veggies. You’re never going to be the healthiest eater, but you’re becoming more mindful. And you’re still hungry. Another work in progress.
  21. You went on a first date. Not a second. And you’d really like there to be a second at some point. Sooner rather than later.
  22. You’ve started sharing more of your writing with the world and it’s definitely something you want to do more. Turns out, finding a literary agent and getting your book published isn’t the only way to do that. (But that would be really cool, too.)
  23. Resolutions are out. Intentions are in. You write them down and hang them on your wall and doodle about them in your bullet journal and remind yourself every day that you’re working with something, not for something.

Thanks to those who have joined me on my journey so far. I’m excited to see where this upcoming year takes us!

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The Weapon We Have Is Love

It’s no secret I love being busy. Just four months after I graduated college, I had somehow managed to lock down a full time job, a part time job, and a volunteer position. And while many people could not understand why I would want to spend my free time doing work that I wasn’t getting paid for in addition to a 40 hour work week, I couldn’t be happier. Especially because my volunteer position was with one of the best organizations out there – The Harry Potter Alliance.

I’m sure you’ve seen posts from me over the past year sharing about the HPA’s campaigns, various articles I’ve written for our Medium publication, or simply expressing my love for my fellow HPA volunteers and staff members. When I talk about the HPA to my friends and family, I always describe it as “a social justice initiative themed around Harry Potter”…to which most people respond “how did you find something so perfect for you?” And honestly, they couldn’t be more right.

Even though my full time job is also at a nonprofit, The Harry Potter Alliance has given me the opportunity to expand my social justice actions even further. I truly can’t imagine myself doing any other work besides somehow helping people, which is why I was drawn to nonprofit work in the first place. So it’s no surprise that even when I’m not at my 9-5 job, I’m continuing the fight for social justice with an organization that not only aims to improve the world by turning fans into heroes, but also believes it’s just as important to share your Hogwarts House as it is to share your pronouns.

It’s been one year since I’ve joined the HPA as a volunteer, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to take on many different roles on our campaigns team, better known as the Department of Magical Causes and Correspondence. First and foremost, I am the LGBTQ+ Researcher, responsible for keeping our staff updated on the latest LGBTQ+ related news in the world and providing resources and information that can be referenced in future campaigns, on our social media channels, and other projects conducted by the HPA. I’ve also spent time on the social media team, contributing to the HPA’s Pinterest page and assisting copywriters on various platforms. I also love to write articles for Medium, as well as generally help behind the scenes however I can. Working with the HPA has helped me embrace the fact that my love of fandom and my love of activism don’t have to exist separately. In fact, they’re infinitely stronger together.

Fandoms are a place where I’ve always felt comfortable. Whether I’m gushing about Harry Potter or YouTube or Broadway, I thrive when I’m surrounded by other people who share my level of passion and aren’t afraid to show it. There’s nothing more freeing than connecting with others who respect, understand, and celebrate your authentic self. With the HPA, I’ve been able to do that on a whole new level that I’ve never truly experienced before.

People feel comfortable in this group the moment they join. Though our communication is almost exclusively virtual, our relationships develop quickly and are always a solid form of support. We have come out to each other before anyone else in our personal lives, we’re open about our struggles with mental health and the need to take time off and recharge, we share self care techniques when we notice someone struggling, we have staff-wide discussions on how to better our communication both within the organization and out in the world, and more often than anything else, we’re always sending love, positivity, support, and lots of virtual hugs.

There are people in this organization that I’ve never met before who I consider some of my closest friends. We share jokes and bond over TV shows and always know the perfect GIFs to send each other. We all share a passion for making a difference, and it just so happens to be in a way that attracts other like-minded Harry Potter fans. Working with this group of superheros, wizard activists, and genuinely caring group of nerds is quite literally the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to magic. I could not be more grateful.