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Soleil is an award-winning creative, food and lifestyle photographer based in Austin, TX. 




Goodbye Taylor Swift’s “22”, hello Jordan Year.

With my birthday less than 24 hours away,  I was doing some research to see what, if any, significance the number 23 held. A few interesting facts I came across:

  • Each parent contributes 23 chromosomes to the start of human life. The nuclei of cells in human bodies have 46 chromosomes made out of 23 pairs.
  • Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times.
  • There are exactly 23 characters, numbers and letters on the face of all U.S. coins
  •  Kurt Cobain was born in 1967 and died in 1994; 1+9+6+7= 23, 1+9+9+4 = 23.
  • “W” is the 23rd letter of the alphabet. It has two points down and three points up. The “W” on your keyboard is right between the 2 and 3.
  • The average human physical biorhythm is 23 days

I’m not sure what I was expecting to get from this research, maybe some kind of revelation that there is a pre-determined theme to what this year holds; like happiness, tradition, fulfillment, rebirth, simplicity, growth, etc. Ironically enough, there is no special meaning to what my 23rd year holds (apart from Greta’s insistent horoscope readings that have only confirmed I will be forever on the “wellness wagon” and everything hits the ceiling when mercury is in retrograde) yet I think that may be a reflection of exactly what this year should be. Undefined. Unspecified. Not unimportant, but unknown, and more importantly up to me and no one else to define it.

Officially a whole year (and a half) post-grad and this in-between, discover and define, at the cross section of a millennial and an adult leaves myself in a place of excitement and fear, growth and plateau, success and failure, and another 365 days to ponder what the hell I am doing with my life.

Last night, I celebrated my birthday dinner with some of my closest friends at my favorite restaurant (thank you Jackie, Kaitlyn and Amanda!) and midway through devouring a mini feast, Kaitlyn asked her special birthday questions to me, which I thought were genuine, reflective, and honest questions worth delving deeper on.

1. What was I most proud of this year?

If I had to choose a word for my 22nd year, it would be vulnerability. This time last year, I don’t think I truly understood the power and presence of vulnerability. Not only being vulnerable with others, but with myself. Letting myself sit with my emotions, seek counseling, expressing my thoughts and beliefs openly in the line of opposition, acknowledging and sharing my deepest weaknesses with strangers, and the pinnacle moment of crying in front of 80+ co-workers…multiple times.

Easier said than done, vulnerability is not something one jumps right into. Sometimes they have to be pushed, and many times it’s uncomfortable, but knowing that humans are imperfect and will fail me, there is truly only goodness that comes out of it. It’s something not to be ashamed of, but something to be celebrated and encouraged. To give whatever you hold as sacred the chance to be told and honored, no matter how raw or unfiltered or shameful it is, to be open to being intimate with others has, in my experience, provided support, outpouring of love, stronger relationships, and an inner confidence in who I am, imperfections and all.

2. What am I looking forward to being proud of?

I am looking forward to being proud of the way in which I come to respect myself better, become healthier in all aspects of my life, and to live in a constant state of gratitude and mindfulness. There are so many false narratives I have convinced myself of that have hindered me from doing what I love most; being with, for and of people. I am excited to be proud of the friend, colleague, daughter, spirit, and self I am becoming, someone that inspires and serves others unconditionally.

There may be many things wrong going on in the world and even my own life right now, but damn, there are a hell of a lot of things that are going right that deserve a greater celebration than a blog post. This last year has been redemptive, live-giving and life-changing, and I am eager to go further into the place of pride where I can grow alongside beauty and terror.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t fearful of this next year. Fearful, yes, of what may happen, but also fearful of what may not happen. Fearful of staying stagnant, of friends getting married while I stay single, of losing purpose or passion, or having neither. Most currently, I am fearful of being content, something that gives few reasons to be fearful. And yet, I am also fearful of what good things are to come ahead, what grand adventures I have in store, fearful of God and the overwhelming power that will be revealed in His Truth and my life. The deep reverence for God and awe of His holiness and majesty and power through fear of Him, it’s in this same way that my fear drives my unwillingness to stay the same, to lean into whatever comes and live wholeheartedly in every moment.

Below are just a few words I have grown to believe, been inspired by and clung onto this past year, taking them forward with me so that I may not shrink but expand myself, find my way back to the people I love, move forward with peace and clarity instead of catastrophe, override the fear of failure with flying, and start the celebration all over again.

twenty-three quotes, thoughts and musings 

risk being seen in all your glory.

check on your strong friend.

stop saying yes to shit you hate.

if you desire healing let yourself fall ill.

you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

being single is beautiful.

fuck the fear of failure.

it doesn’t matter where you are, if you don’t accept who you are, you won’t accept where you are.

you can love your body and want to change it.

set boundaries and respect them.

stay connected with those that are separated by time and distance. don’t let the gap vanish before it’s too late.

if your passions are really your passions, pursue them relentlessly.

serving yourself is serving others.

do what you need to do to get what you need to do done.

don’t be scared to say I love you if you mean it.

knowing and understanding God better is knowing and understanding others better.

you have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working towards, a body worth feeding, and a soul worth tending. You are spirit and power and image of God. You have been given Today.

be unwilling to stay the same.

you are your actions, not your thoughts.

as you step into this next version of yourself, the most courageous thing you will have to do is let go of the version that no longer exists.

you don’t need to explain the way you heal to anyone.

give yourself permission to not have it all figured out, to be where you are, to have and experience your emotions, to be epic and messy all in one moment, to be HUMAN AF.

the woman you’re becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces and material things.
Choose her over everything.

© 2022 Soleil Roth, LLC. Soleil Roth Photography.