25 is an Odd Number

Clayton 24th headshot


A quarter of a century. And what a year it’s been. 2020 feels like it’s been at least a quarter of a century by itself. Every year, I feel like I have changed in leaps and bounds but I’m sure, like you, that this year, uh, brought a lot of changes. Love, loss, career successes and career failures. This past year. I got promoted at my job, becoming the youngest director of marketing in the history of the company, and then proceeded to quit six months later to pursue my dream of being a photographer full time.

Turning twenty-five feels significant. 25 is the age that, as a kid, I imagined I would have my entire life figured and planned out by. I had a lot of visions for what 25 would bring for me, and at least 80% centered on looking like Paul Walker a la the first Fast & Furious movie. Frosted tips and all. 

Throughout my life, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I turned 25, you would have gotten wildly different answers. I’ve been reflecting a lot about how I am so different from all my past selves, yet how I’m really not that different at all. They’re all still here, peeking in the edges of the frame. The glossy eyed 12 year old who wanted to be a photographer, the lanky 14 year old who spent his days writing and hiding in the library. The cocky 16-year old who fancied himself an “avant-garde” videographer, even though he didn’t know what that meant. The disillusioned 18 year old political scientist, who was more interested in reality than theory, and had the grades to prove it. Some nights I think of the anxious and sad 20 year old, who was consumed by loss and torn between becoming a part time florist and librarian in Europe somewhere, or killing myself. I’m quite glad that year ended, though it taught me a lot. I DEFINITELY still feel the humble-to-a-fault 21 year old walking around inside my soul, telling me to always help others, even if it harms me to do so. My 22 and 23 year old selves feel like old friends, they were so focused on education and helping others, and figuring out who I am. Still haven’t quite figured it out, but that’s okay. My ambitious and disciplined 24 year old self still hasn’t quite accepted that his time is over now, and it’s time for my 25 year old self to take the reins of this show, for the next 364 days at least.

Having a new year start for me right around the time the rest of the world starts a new calendar year is exciting and confusing. I’m always pressured to set lofty goals and resolutions based on action. On doing more sit-ups, on making more money, on eating less calories. All action based. For this 25th lap around the sun I’ve given up hoping and creating a certain version of myself in my dreams. I have goals still, but I’ve decided that I should live while I’m alive, and practice loving the version of me I am TODAY. Because he’s all I’ve got. I want to focus more on resolutions of BEING rather than DOING, and I encourage you to do the same. I want to be more present: wherever I am, I want to be FULLY there. I want to be more honest, and worry less about curating a persona of who I could be, and instead be really honest about who I am. I want to be more forgiving, of myself and others. I wanted this post published 2 weeks ago and it just didn’t feel right with everything going on in the world, but I figured even if no one cares what I have to say, I’m trying to value my own voice as much as I value the voices of others. 

I’ve been thinking about this quote that says: “A river stays the same only by changing” a lot lately, and I want to be more aware of how I change and how I stay the same this year. We are beings made of love and light from fragile bones and hearts that break in a world that can feel increasingly dark and dangerous. Simply existing and loving yourself fully with your heart on your sleeve is an act of bravery. This year I want to highlight more of the good in my life, in hopes it inspires you to do the same.  So from now until January 12th, 2022 I will share a story each day, either here, on my boudoir account, on my blog, or through my newsletter. I would love if you would join me and hold me accountable.

As always, I could not have survived this year without the ones who keep me sane. You know who you are. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Here’s to 25 and 2021, may it bring us all what we need.

Sincerely yours, 


PS. for anyone who likes to see these kinds of things, I included a screenshot of the brain dump that this post turned into. It is okay to have first drafts, and then to absolutely hate them. We cannot get to the second draft without the first shitty one!

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and when you appear all the rivers sound in my body, bells shake the sky, and a hymn fills the world.