Twenty-Six and in the Mix

Twenty-Six and in the Mix

Happy Aries season, mes chéries! The snow has melted, the temperature is rising, and pollen is annoyingly clogging up everyone’s sinuses. Spring is finally here. Now this would normally be the time that I spew my usual bullsh*t of “Oh wow! I can’t believe it’s been a year since my last birthday already!”

But no.

This last year has been the f*cking longest and hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with (…that’s what she said). I know it’s been a while since I recorded an episode, a video, or wrote a post. Given the year I had, especially the last three months, I figured my annual birthday post would be the perfect time to chat with you all.

Twenty-five was eventful to say the least. I had told myself that it was the year I would start the second chapter of my actual adult life, first chapter being post-grad years. However, I had no idea what that would actually entail. As much as I want to hate everything about my 25th year on this rotating rock, I don’t. I recently found myself appreciating what all the change has done for me, aside from expanding my waistline.

I started 25 at the start of COVID. We all remember the extreme anxiety, the fear, the indescribable heaviness that sat in the air. While many people escaped to suburbia or the beautiful outdoors, I spent it staying in the city I love so dearly. I stuck with her through the tearful 7pm cheers, the eerie nights, the tense protests, the numerous permanent closings, the political unrest.

During this time, I picked up running. I would jog to Central Park from my previous apartment and run for anywhere between 3 to 6 miles. Sometimes I did sprint workouts. Sometimes I kept a steady jogging pace. For someone who genuinely hates running anything more than a 100m or 200m dash, this was some strange self-inflicted torture and resulted in destroying the tendons around my knees. During one of my final runs in the park, I buckled somewhere above Sheep’s Meadow and collapsed on the to the side of the path. I was confused since it was still early in my run, but a wave of emotional discomfort immediately took over my body. I suddenly realized that everything in my life was wrong. Pandemic aside, I was actually extremely unhappy.

There is nothing quite paralyzing like getting hit in the face with the realization that you’re not where you’re supposed to be in life. Normally when something negative occurs, you can focus on that one problem and fix it. When almost every aspect of your life has veered off course, you don’t even know where to start.

At this point, I was starting to hate my job. Work felt like a toxic and codependent relationship that I was supposed to break off months ago. The guy I was holding out hope for needed to be cut permanently from my life. The guys I then essentially rotated through were all completely wrong for me. Certain problems with friends became glaringly obvious, and fights were unavoidable. I even nearly ended friendships and would argue they’re still a work in progress. I had a severe fallout with a family member. Then numerous relatives fell ill to cancer. I struggled with my faith. I had my finances rocked with moving out alone. I had to take care of my very old 14-year-old dog in for the first time since high school and deal with the numerous vet visits when he had health issues. I was screwed over and blindsided multiple times by people I trusted at every corner of my life. By October, I was too depressed to create content. I was too exhausted to even workout and eat right. I had lost hope for dating and didn’t care about anything anymore.

When the calendars turned to 2021, I thought “Maybe we can turn this around.” But then I got COVID, got dumped for having COVID, and proceeded to suffer over 6-weeks of long-term effects. Just as I was crawling out of rock bottom, I had to say goodbye to a number of comforts permanently. Even though I went into survival mode and found a way out, it left me in shambles right up to my 26th birthday.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This past year, like any other life challenge, helped everybody decipher what was truly important to them and what changes they needed to implement to better the rest of their lives. Overall, the timing of all this change was rough but couldn’t be more perfect. None of my problems have fully fixed themselves, but the worst is over. I’m slowly climbing out of my crises.

My biggest takeaway from my 25th year is I had to stop being afraid of losing control. I hold onto everything (and I do mean everythinghave you not seen how much sh*t is in my apartment?!) too tightly and for way too long. I spend all my time trying to maintain control and interest of everything and everyone around me instead of asking if I even want to be friends with/be in a relationship with/work for that said subject. I got to that point of unhappiness because I lost control trying to control everything outside of myself. It was the most detrimental thing I could have done. In hindsight, I am sort of glad I did though. Being that unhappy was a life-changing lesson I needed to learn on my own to permanently change my ways for good.

Eight days into year 26 and things are already falling into place. Maybe it’s because last year’s spring showers watered the right seeds in my mind. Or maybe it’s because a vaccinated hot girl summer is around the corner 👀 . Who knows what I’m going to get myself into this year. Either way, this is the genesis of a true new chapter of my twenties, one that I’m actually comfortable with and happy about.

If you want the uncut and unfiltered version of this update, head to my podcast and listen to episode 27 which will go live SOON (having some technical difficulties with my mic). Otherwise until next time, bisou bisou…






Erica Huang
Erica Huang

Based in New York City, Erica Huang is the creator and voice behind Bouge & Rouge. This blog is a playground of her thoughts where she invites you to join her on her journey through her 20s. Erica shares her lifestyle, fashion and beauty tips, adventures, and personal thoughts with the goal of inspiring others to always persevere and be unapologetically yourself.

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