I’m twenty years old. I am freaking twenty years old.
There is an inexplicable feeling of excitement and terror that is roiling in my gut as I write this journal entry of sorts. I feel as if I’ve finished a chapter in my life and a new chapter awaits me with blank pages asking to be scribbled, scratched, drawn on, torn, and taped back together. It’s a scary feeling to know that this life is temporary and it will end and that every day that I step forward into the future, I am nearing my final chapter. As I turn 20, I feel that more than ever. For the longest time, my age ended in the ever head shaking, talked about, freakishly awkward suffix -teen. Now those 7 glorious and at times despairingly hopeless years are being ended with a final and irreversible period and I am forced to look on to what lies ahead for me. I won’t know until I stand on 11:59pm July 6th 2024, the last day of my 29th year on this infinitesimally small and vastly huge earth, what in fact awaits me in this new chapter, but I am resolved to have as much of a say as I can. As I hit the big 20, I promise myself that I won’t be a helpless passenger on a boat in a roiling sea, succumbing to the blows of the massive waves of life and simply moving where the violent winds take me. I won’t do that to myself. THIS IS MY LIFE. I refuse to be blown in every which direction. I refuse to lack the purpose and drive to “take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them”. Even it’s a fruitless endeavor, even if I am consigned to the fates that were supposedly set in stone before I was born two decades ago, I will always fight for my dreams, my aspirations, and above all my happiness.
In these two short decades, I have not found myself. I am still a work in progress and will probably still be a work in progress when I am old and gray. Granted, I have a greater understanding of myself than I did as the acne-faced, stick skinny 13 year old who just wanted to fit in and be accepted and liked by the world. I’ve always known where I’ve lacked in life, such as confidence and communication skills. But now I know my strengths as well. Granted I still have my insecurities but I know that its OK and that everyone suffers from it. Even the most experienced and accomplished person has a closet full of fears and insecure feelings. I know now that it’s a part of life to acknowledge your faults and work as best as you can to grow from them. But I also realize that it is incredibly unhealthy to wallow in feelings of unworthiness and dwell on what’s wrong with yourself and your life. The most important thing to think about is how lucky and blessed I am that I live the life that I live and that I am loved by the people who love me.
Probably one of the most important lessons I have learned as I struggled to be a well-adjusted teen is that not everyone is going to like me. And that is OK. As a teenager I have always put what others thought of me as hugely important. Now I know that their thoughts matter about as much that piece of gum that I can’t seem to get off of one of my sandals. People whose thoughts matter are those who accept me and love me in all my awkward glory. I vow never to let other’s perceptions dampen my true self. I promise myself going forward to simply work to the be the person that I want to be and no one else. When I meet a person, I will lay out all of my cards and shrugging say “This is me. Like it or leave it. Doesn’t matter to me either way.” I shouldn’t have to bend, twist, and distort myself into something unrecognizable so that I will be likable to someone. I have worth all on my own and only people who are smart enough to see that are worth my time. This does not mean that I consign myself to who I am now. I am always striving to become a more understanding, caring, wise and altogether better me. I will destroy and recreate myself frequently. That I am sure of. But those who truly love me and care for me will stick with me in all of my forms. As I shed my teen layers and work on growing a thicker, sturdier, and more colorful skin in my twenties, I will try to grapple with the fact that perfection is a not an option and that my best should be what I strive for.
Despite all of the aforementioned knowledge gained in my awko-taco teen years, I am still a wide-eyed, innocent child in my heart. Although I am 20 years old, I still feel a sense of awe and admittedly some fear as I try to come to terms with the vast and endless possibility that is my future. Will I become wildly successful? Will I find a true and impossibly beautiful love? Will my deepest dreams come true? I don’t know. It scares me. I’ve never had much love for the dark. Simply because its full of the unknown and the unseen. But I will take all that I have known, all that I’ve experienced, and all that I have learned with me into the dark. It may not be enough but it’s all that I have. I am ready to buckle up and strap in for this roller coaster. It’s incredibly scary. There are no words. But I am as ready as I’ll ever be. And when I am 29 years old at 11:59pm on July 6th 2024, I want to be able to say that my twenties were one hell of a ride.