Journal 1 | Looking Back at 23 and Ahead to 24

I’m not your typical New-Year’s-resolution-making kind of gal. I can’t remember the last time the change in the year’s ending number has motivated me to do much of anything other than dress up in something sparkly and have an over-the-top night celebrating with friends and too much champagne. For many, it’s a great starting point to better themselves by way of health, education, work, love, etc. But I’d like to see an end-of-year review on whether or not that bettering actually stuck.

I’ve found that when I put these hard start and end dates on my goals, I’m left feeling more disappointed in all that I hadn’t accomplished rather than proud of all that I had. That’s why these past few years I’ve worked on shifting my focus — underlining and starring the remarkable things that occurred instead of placing emphasis the bad ones. This change in perception has helped me come to the generally positive conclusion that I had survived another year on earth, and at the end of the day I’m allowed to be proud of myself. Then I roll up my sleeves and sift through the nitty gritty — the good parts and the bad parts — and put it to good use.

So, you didn’t get that job. Why did that happen? What can you do this year so that next time around, the job is yours?

Or maybe . . . Look at you, you got the job! Now, what can you do to be successful in it so that a year from now, you can consider the possibility of a raise or a promotion?

This yearly review typically falls around my birthday. But luckily for me, June 7 of this year was a whirlwind of excitement, love, and activity, and I didn’t really have a chance to sit back and reflect on 23. So, here I am.

A month later, I’m taking the time to recall the great things that took place and take stock of the hardships too, and then look ahead to what I’m hoping I can accomplish with this fresh new age.


Looking back, chapter 23 of my life was quite a roller-coaster (as cliché as it might be to say). It was full of the highest highs and the lowest lows, and it wasn’t without a few twists and turns along the way.

Like the start of many years, this one began on a high. My 23rd birthday was one of my best, with a celebration that knocked the socks off anything I had done previously. Over 70 (se. ven. ty. !!!!) of my friends from past and present came together to help me ring in a rather insignificant age. I can honestly say I had never felt so completely loved and appreciated. And this high I felt lasted throughout the summer.

Those warm few Southern California months brought me so much happiness. Whether it was landing my current job as an Associate Copywriter which truly allowed me to dive into a career in writing, or finally moving into my own place with a roommate I had met in the “real world” who was quickly becoming a best friend — I was happy. I landed in Orange County, a place I had dreamed about living since I was in my early teens (thanks to MTV’s Laguna Beach). I had a savings account that was growing, not shrinking. It seemed like my early adult life was actually beginning to take off.

And then it stalled. Things fell quickly into a routine. This was, by no means, a bad thing. The plateau just came a bit earlier than expected. Life was becoming eerily similar to everything I had experienced before, and that disappointed me.

In a bid to not get stuck, I wasted no time making plans that would shake things up. I flew into Chicago and surprised a best friend from college; I spent a weekend with high school friends in brilliant New York; I celebrated the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 in Vegas with a tight-knit gang from LMU. And then there was Austin.

I fell in love. (And for the record, I’m talking about the city, not a boy.) Austin made me feel totally, completely alive again. It was a long weekend trip with some of the people I admire most — my college roommates — and even though we were only there for three full days, I was on the verge of tears the entire ride back to the airport. The city was unexpected, which is why I think I fell so hard and fast. It put me back on a high. I began my job hunt immediately when I returned back to California.

You know how the saying goes — for every high there’s a low. And so began the lowest times of 23.

It makes you feel quite inferior to want something so badly and to continuously be told no. No. No. No. The word became too familiar, too constant. It wasn’t the first time Austin had rejected me. But it stung a bit more the second time around. I was so convinced that it was where I needed to be; where I was meant to be. And the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to get there put a strain on who I was.

Those couple of months challenged me mentally. I was no longer happy, carefree Marissa and was instead a shadow of who I used to be. Luckily, I realized that, and I wanted to change it. I talked to my roommate and then I talked to my mom. I admitted I was feeling weak and sorry for myself. It wasn’t easy to admit, but saying it out loud really, truly helped me work through it. My perspective shifted, and my return uphill began again.

23 was a far cry from what I was expecting it to be. But I learned a lot about myself and how strong I was. It was a crucial year for me. I realized what I could get through alone and learned when I needed to ask for a little bit of help. That was a huge lesson and a huge growth that I’m so incredibly glad to have been able to work through. And at the end of the day, I’m still really proud of myself.


Chapter 24 is already shaping up to be something else entirely. Another large celebration started things off on an incomparable high. If it was possible, this birthday left me feeling more loved and more grateful than the previous one did.

But that lasted all of two days.

The Friday after my 24th birthday (which was on a Wednesday), I got a text from my mom while I was at work that my grandpa was heading to the hospital and that it was likely critical. I left work in a flurry of tears and made the drive up to Los Angeles.

I had, up to that point, been so extremely lucky to never experience the death of someone close to me. So I didn’t know what the appropriate reaction was to my Papa’s potential passing. It was a frenzied, confusing, terrifying weekend. Then an all right week. And then a wonderful month. He was okay, given what he had been through. He was recovering. We had more time.

It was during this troubling period that I realized I needed to write, that I needed an outlet. And it was during this time that I decided to stop waiting and begin this blog. Maybe it was an overflow of joy from my grandpa doing better, but it felt elating to write for my own pleasure again.

In this short month of being 24, I had almost lost someone I loved dearly. Because of this, my view on things as trivial as failure has shifted. Growth in year 24 has already happened, and I know it’s going to keep happening.

Next up is my first time out of the country — a two-week trip to Iceland, Ireland, and Portugal with one of my greatest friends in August. I’m ready for this exciting, challenging, eye-opening experience. And I’m ready to look back and reflect on how I was improved because of it.

So let’s see what you’ve got, 2-4.


2 responses to “Journal 1 | Looking Back at 23 and Ahead to 24”

  1. […] couple of months, or perhaps had a chance to read to the very end of my earlier (and lengthy) post on turning twenty-four, then you surely know about my upcoming trip overseas at the end of August, and how excited and […]


  2. […] depth about the more difficult times, I’ve shared or at least mentioned them in posts like this one and this one. In short, I experienced loss like I never had […]


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