The Big 23--Jordan Year

The Big 23--Jordan Year

The parallelism between Michael Jordan's incomparable career and twenty-three being the best year yet.
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Those closest to me have endured the past few weeks with the constant mention of “Jordan Year.” For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it originates from the legend himself, Michael Jordan who sported the number 23 on his basketball jersey. In parallel to his great accomplishments, maintaining one of the greatest careers in history, the age 23 is said to be the best year yet.

Perhaps I have said the term too many times, explained the meaning with too much enthusiasm, and veered off into too long a tangent about my optimistic views on turning 23. But that’s because I don’t know about you, I wasn’t really feeling 22. Shortly after turning twenty-two, I graduated from college, moved to a brand new city, and began the daunting yet exhilarating task of navigating post-grad life and New York City.

When the new charm of the city faded, subway routes became the norm, and the first wave of loneliness and isolation settled in, I felt blindsided with a feeling of regret and confusion. I began to question my decision to uproot my life to NYC. I had envisioned enjoying post-grad life after having spent the past 16 years enrolled in school with complete enthusiasm for this new era in my life. It has been almost exactly 365 days since, and the end of this month marks the end of my post-grad era.

I’ve learned to find beauty in the rhythm that life is lived in seasons. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up and attended college in states that experienced all four seasons. I believe life unfolds in a similar pattern. Though it may not be distinctly every 12 or so weeks, when I reflect, I find distinctions between the periods in my life and the fruitfulness that each season bears.

The summer after completing college was filled with bright, new adventures as I checked off my mental bucket list one NYC tourist destination at a time. Fall came around and just as the weather was transitioning to cooler temperatures, I too began to feel the loss of the city’s light and warmth. The dark winter days were also my darkest days, when even getting out of bed in the morning was a daunting task. I recall my brother coming to visit me, and when it was time for him to get on his flight home, I grew anxious and began crying, feeling paralyzed by the feeling of loneliness that would return as soon as he walked out of the apartment door.

Spring represents a new season of my life. The cold, cloudy days transitioned to bright and sunny ones. I notice beautiful flowers blooming on my walks, and I’m beginning to see the beauty in New York City once again. When I began using the quiet, lonely moments as times of personal reflection, I found truth in the saying “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.” I discovered that though I may question the purpose of present the present, I was sowing seeds for a future season.

Tropical countries only observe two main seasons -- summer and monsoon. And just as the magnitude and intensity of monsoon season affects the crops of summer, I believe that the depth of the darkness and the gravity of challenges we experience during one season can affect the seasons to come. I take comfort in this. I am reminded when I am in the midst of a difficult season, wishing for the pain or sadness to dissipate, that the suffering of today will provide a stark contrast for the joys of tomorrow. I have learned that I would not have the full capability to enjoy the joyous, sunny seasons had I not persevered and weathered the tumultuous darkness of a stormy one.

Since weathering the storms of 22, I am truly looking forward to 23. A study published by the London School of Economics found that out of 23,161 survey participants between ages 17 to 85, age 23 was considered to be the peak of life satisfaction. I’m convinced that just like Jordan’s career, twenty-three is going to be the GOAT (greatest of all time). And if it’s not, there’s always Kobe Year (24).

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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10 Things You Can Do To Make People Believe You Have Your Life Together

Adulting is hard, but here are a few tips to make it seem as though everything is under control.

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Personally, I would like to fight whoever convinced Americans that you have the mental and emotional capacity of an adult at age 18. A year into my "adult" life and I still find myself looking for the nearest person who looks like a mom to help me when I get lost in public. The expectation to balance work and school, pay bills, and make your own dentist appointments without so much as a tutorial is a little unreasonable to me.

Everyone knows that being an adult can be as fun as it is difficult, but not everyone knows the secrets of how to seem more together than you really are. So, here are a few tips that will help you not only conceal the fact that your life may be a hot mess but make you look like you've got everything on lock.

1. Have a signature something or other

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Having a signature scent, pair of shoes or style of any kind makes you seem like you're sure of your identity. All of my Riverdale stans can count on one hand the number of times that we've seen Cheryl Blossom without her iconic red lips or Betty without her ponytail. If you can do both while still maintaining a note of who you are in every look, you come off as someone who knows exactly they are and seem like you're pretty well put together.

2. Plan your outfit the night before

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If you're anything like me, trying to put an outfit together right before you leave is setting yourself up to be late. Plan what you want to wear when you have time to play with a look, and actually try it on to be sure that it's what you're going for. That way you won't find yourself standing in the middle of every top you own strewn across the floor with 5 minutes until you're supposed to be somewhere.

3. Stay hydrated and moisturized

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Taking care of your body is not only good practice but essential to your overall health. Keep a bottle of water and a tube of lotion on hand. Make it a point to stay hydrated, inside and out. If you abandon water in favor of coffee to keep you powering through your 7-hour-shift and 4 hours of homework after and skip the lotion after your midnight shower, the next morning you will be dehydrated, crusty, and like you're just generally failing at being an adult.

4. Take care of your nails

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Now, I'm not saying you have to have a standing appointment to get your acrylics refilled every two weeks to look like a successful adult (but if you do, serious props to you, sis). Nails can say a lot about your hygiene, just keep them nice and clean, and if you're feeling adventurous, slap a fresh coat of paint on them. A firm handshake and good cuticle care can make a world of a difference in a job interview.

5. Chew with your mouth closed (at the table and in life)

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I remember being four and every time I was eating something it seemed like my mom was just waiting to remind me to chew with my mouth closed. While it's simply a matter of etiquette to keep what's in your mouth to yourself, it's also applicable to life. Not everyone needs to know everything going on in your life. Just like back in elementary school, if you come to the lunch table smacking, there are the kids who laugh, the ones who gawk, and the ones that watch in disgust just so that they'll have something to say about you later on the playground. Keep some parts of your life a mystery and take note of how little drama there is.

6. Be knowledgeable

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Stay worldly. Keep up with what's going on in politics, learn about something you may only have a little knowledge of, or set out to learn a new skill. Knowledge is attractive and it facilitates growth and new ideas. My teachers have always said that knowledge is power, and in this day and age it's the easiest it has ever been to attain. Be aware of the world you live in so that you can make your own unique contributions to it.

7. Acknowledge other people

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Ghandi once said, "A thousand candles can be lighted from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself." We live in an incredibly competitive world where it has become normal to interpret someone else's success as your failure. This is not the case, and it is not the way that healthy people think. Acknowledge the good other people do and practice expressing genuine happiness for someone else's success. Authentic people are secure enough in themselves to help other people attain that same confidence.

8. Do things on your own 

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I remember in middle school it seemed like eating alone is the worst thing I could ever do - newsflash, it isn't. Some of the best adventures and experiences you can have are on your own. Treat yourself to lunch for one, take a book with you or people watch. Travel solo, there's no better way to grow than to immerse yourself in a foreign setting without clinging to familiarity out of fear. It's great to enjoy the company of others, but there really is something freeing in knowing that you can essentially do and be anything you want without being tethered to someone else.

9. Talk about things, not people

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Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Well-rounded people don't rely on the events in other people's lives for entertainment or as an excuse to drop names. Gossiping and talking about others simply for the sake of having your own name attached to someone else's is immature and a sign of serious character deficit. Share your own experiences and swap ideas based on the perspective you've gained rather than speculate about other people.

10. Love yourself before you ask anyone else to

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The most important thing I hope you take away from this brief manual on how to fake your way through adult life, is to love yourself first. It's not always easy to get out of your own head and see yourself clearly when you may not even be sure of who you are, but don't look for someone to love you so that you can love yourself. Your own validation is worth more than anyone else's, and sometimes it will be the only vote of confidence you'll have. Love yourself and draw your strength from it. If you can fall in love with who you are, I promise everyone else will too.

While these tips can be applied to feign mastery of all things adult-ish, know that as you practice them you are actually forming good habits that can't be faked and are evidence of a well-balanced life.

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