an ode to being 22 & to hoping they’ll still like me when I’m 23…

 Today is my birthday & I am now 23. It’s weird to be this older age, yet still so young. A lot has happened this last year; tons of things that were welcoming & a few things that were completely uninviting. This year had it’s moments where it pushed me & shaped me, & one’s where I hindered & stayed stuck. So today, I reflect on all that year 22 brought me as I unwilling march into whatever liess ahead.

This year really was a whirlwind of adventure for me, & I kicked it off by going to LA & experiencing first hand what life is like there. It’s a trip that I’ll forever be grateful for getting to go on. I got to walk Rodeo drive, eat Sprinkles Cupcakes, hang out & shop on Melrose, visit the fashion district, and drink all the good LA coffee. I’m still having dreams about that city & hope to return there soon. It lit a fire behind my desire to create a life worth living, instead of taking the one the world says you have to have.

This past year I got to do a few photo shoots with some with amazing photographers. My friend Taylor & I were able to collaborate on three shoots this year that turned out super killer. That girl has a knack for seeing my vision & being able to bring it to life. It was so much fun getting to do a photo shoot in my town’s midtown district with her this summer. We also did a shoot celebrating my blog turning 3 years old, & we just wrapped up a birthday shoot this past weekend. I’ll forever be appreciative of the images she captured of me at twenty-two. You can’t bring back time, but I’ll gladly hold onto these memorable pictures of who I was at this age.

During the summer I got to go to my favorite city ever & experience it like it was my home. Atlanta has always been where my heart has dwelled ever since I was a kid & this past trip I got to dive right into it’s community & become a part of it. Coffee at Taproom, donuts at Sublime, a photo shoot with So Worth Loving, & finally being able to meet some Instagram friends face to face will be something I’ll cherish so much from this trip. I went to a meet & greet with a room full of strangers in a city that was not my own & walked away feeling more at home than I ever had in my entire life. This might seem like something small, but this moment was pivotal for me. It showed me that every human is just looking for a room of humans that they can relate to. It taught me that we’re all just searching for the few people who we can sit with for hours & just talk life, passions, Jesus, coffee, aestethics, & the in-betweens of the everyday. I found those people 2,000 miles away from home & for a moment I felt infinitely out of space & time. I felt accepted & the most me I had ever been. I finally understood that true community can be found anywhere, you just have to press in hard enough to find it. 

But back to the So Worth Loving part… I got to do a freaking shoot with them! Like, what?!?! Biggest dream come true like ever. The owner of the self-worth t-shirt company is the kindest soul you’ll ever encounter & you can see the passion she has for showing others their value exude from her. She is a beam of hope & light & love & I feel so honored to have gotten to meet her & spend a morning with her & her amazing photographer Michaella. They’re doing such great things in that city & it was so cool to get to be a small part of it. Oh, & I got to write a guest blog for them too. So cool!

This is the year that I became a true coffee snob. Yep, I am that person now. It took me twenty-two years, but I’m there. Coffee at home is gross unless you have the right beans. Starbucks is just a cup of sugar water mixed with milk. So clearly I have become the queen of local coffee shops, & yes I even take perfectly posed pictures of my coffee too. I don’t know if I’ll be super proud of myself in 2o years for documenting such a thing as coffee almost daily, or just really embarrassed. Who knows, but it’s who I am right now. I honestly enjoy the creativeness behind taking something so simple as a cup of coffee & getting a different outcome every time you capture it. It’s a sort of thrill & you may not understand it, but if I learned anything this year, it’s that I don’t have to explain myself. I am who I am, & I enjoy what I enjoy, take it & accept it, or you can just leave.

Donuts. Mmm, my favorite things. The obsession got really real this year. My donut intake & pun game only improved & got stronger. Donuts will forever be a part of my life because I donut feel hole without them. I just like them a hole latte & I donut think that is ever going to change. So deal.

But something that totally did change this year is something that I have complete mixed emotions about. This year my grandpa passed away towards the end of October. I so badly want to forget this year because I want to forget this pain, I want to forget the darkness that his loss has created. But I never want to forget this year because I don’t ever want to forget him. This may have been the year that he died, but it’s also the year that I got to spend my last moments with him. This year may go down in history as my most favorite year to love & hate because it’s the year that left him in the dust. I’ve never known a world without him, & this year created that for me. Twenty-two is the age I lost my favorite person, but it’s number of years that I got to spend with him. Twenty-two you’ll always hold a special place in my heart forever because of him & the special place he always had in me.

So this year I experienced joy, pain, adventure, & growth. Twenty-two you were great & you totally sucked at the same time. There were many lonely nights that I’d totally be cool with forgetting. But there were moments that you brought that I was meant to live & learn from. You’re a year that I hope won’t easily fade from my memory. You are a year that I needed to live. Twenty-two, don’t let me forget you because you made me change, you made me move on, you made me face some dark realities, & you forced me to aknowledge true joy & beauty.

Thanks twenty-two for existing, teaching me how to be in the moment, & pushing me beyond the limits that I created for myself. Twenty-three, I hope you’re kind to me. I hope the loss you give will be something to gain. I hope the adventure you hold will be worth while. I hope you give so much more than you take, & I pray I receive it with a joyful heart. Twenty-three, let’s further the journey of finding out who I am. I hope they’ll all still like me anyway, but I kind of also don’t really care if they don’t. 


— abbey kay


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