As I’m writing this on the eve of my 20th birthday, I can’t help to think about where the last year, rather where the last decade, has gone. I’ll be officially leaving the world of teenagehood and entering early adulthood – the world of your twenties. As frightening as it is getting closer to leave the limbo period known as college, at the same time, I’m rather excited about what the future has in store for me. To think that in a few summers I could be interning in New York and in two and a half years living there is exciting. And terrifying.
To me, in my mind, your teen years are for finding yourself and your twenties are for becoming yourself. What I mean is that when you are in your teens, you are exploring and experimenting and finding what you like to do and starting developing your view on the world. In your twenties, you begin to become comfortable in your own skin and accepting who you are and embracing it. I have recently begun to do this. To be honest, it feels liberating not to have to answer to anyone for what you want to do. If I want to wear dark lipstick and heeled booties to class, who is to say that I can’t?
You become your own decision maker. In OCF (the college version of GOYA), we are reading this book called Thirty Steps to Heaven, which is basically a supplement to the Ladder of Divine Ascent (don’t worry about knowing what that is if you aren’t Orthodox, but if you are and don’t know, I suggest opening a new tab and Google searching it) and in the book, one of the steps is obedience, so when asked on a scale of how much we take advice from our parents, my take on it was that the older you get, the less you seem rely on your parents’ advice and start to rely on your own, which impacts your decision making process.
It’s hard to think that we have made some of our major life decisions at so young: where to go to college, what to major in. We have many more to go, most of them happening in our twenties. It’s scary because we ultimately decide what direction our life goes in, which is why it’s scary to see what is going to change and happen in the next ten years. I could be married and even with a few kids or single and living in New York a la Carrie Bradshaw. Who knows.
That being said, the last decade has served to get me to where I am right now. I have learned so much about myself and what I want my goals in life to be. Even from the time I was an early teenager, I knew I wanted to do something in the arts or in the design field. That vision changed as I went through high school (if you can believe this, I was heavily considering major in business up until my junior year), then the epiphany of journalism hit me and that’s where I am today; blending my love for writing with my love of fashion.
I would say that my biggest changes and realizations happened within the last year or so. Last summer, I was blessed to go to Ionian Village, literally the best experience of my life for a variety of reasons. Many say that it was life changing, and for me it was in terms of my beliefs. Without getting into too much personal details, let’s just say that nothing confirms your beliefs more than venerating relics of saints from centuries past, some still perfectly preserved. It’s an experience that really defined how I would move forward with my spiritual life once college hit.
That trip also taught me how much I love to travel and experience new things. I want to travel throughout Europe and will get opportunity to visit London and Paris before the end of this year. I’m so blessed to have parents who cherish the value of seeing the world around us and having us experience new things. Like I mentioned in my college essay what felt like forever ago, I see the value of the many road trips my family took growing up. It’s something I truly value and hope to pass it along to my kids someday.
Once I came to college, I felt like a lot changed. I became more outgoing, doing things I would normally not ever see myself doing. I went hiking for the first time, and held a tarantula and even did the Ice Bucket Challenge. It was moments where I ended up asking myself, “Who am I?”
Not all of it was highs though. I had a lot of lows, especially struggling with the idea of self-worth. Not only was it hard for me to find it and accept it, but to find others who valued it as well. I made the realization that I am worth something and that I should start seeing it and living it. Once I accepted that, it was easier for me to embrace myself and to be my best self.
The last thing I learned and this was fairly recent, stemmed from another lesson from Thirty Steps. It is the idea of detachment, the idea of giving up you pride in exchange for humility. I went through a rough patch last year where my pride got the best of me and allowed me to dwell on the negative and it would allow me to have a hard time just letting it go. Once I discarded the pride, I found myself to feel better and have a better attitude because let’s face it, bitterness won’t make me any younger. Everything is just better when you don’t feel like you need to have an advantage over someone else.
I’m truly very ecstatic to see where things are going to take me next decade. I don’t have too clear a picture since the kinks are being worked out, but I have a positive outlook and that’s all that matters.
Goodbye nineteen and hello twenty.