In a few minutes I will break the teens and enter the year of not belonging. No longer a teen, not quite an adult. As one of the corporate people at work said to me, "You're about to hit the absolutely perfect age! You're gonna be a nobody. And...nobody's perfect! A whole year of perfection awaits!"
Perfect. That is the absolute opposite of what my life has been on a scale of perfection to near failure. But what kind of a scale is that? It's a faulty one. Because my life has been perfect for me.
To be honest, there have been times in my life that I never thought I'd make it to twenty. I didn't ever imagine being twenty until a couple of months ago. My thirteen-year-old self went directly to the goal of eighteen, and the goal after that was where I'd be at twenty-five. Two years later, my fifteen-year-old self couldn't even imagine tomorrow. Then, when I was really eighteen, I was back to imagining and planning to where I wanted to be at twenty-five again. Twenty just kind of got lost in the process of getting to twenty-five, just another thing to check off the list of what I was going to do when I grew up.
I've decided that I'm going to actually be twenty. I've spent a lot of my life waiting to be some other age or in some other place. There's nothing wrong with having a plan. It's good to plan! But something I've learned from this life of mine: you can't expect to have memories of things unless you do the things you want to have memories of. I didn't do normal teenage things because I was so focused on getting to being an independent, graduated, degreed and diploma-ed member of the work force. I forgot to be a real teenager. I didn't hang out with friends. I didn't go to football game or basketball games. I didn't go to a lot of the dances. I didn't do extracurricular activities. I never even imagined sneaking out of my house--I didn't have anywhere to sneak to. It's almost like I just figured "I'll do those things sometime. I've got time." There's never time to waste. There's never a chance to go back.
I don't regret how I was (mostly). I don't regret studying and taking hard classes and staying in on weekends to prep for exams. It's pushed me so much further ahead. What I do regret is thinking that time would just stand still for me. That was a very young, naive thought. Time waits for no one.
I've made a lot of mistakes in the past. There have been stupid moments, unkind words, fights and misunderstandings, missed opportunities, burned bridges. All of these experiences have become lessons of what not to do, and in some cases how to do something better. I've learned how to think better, how to act better, how to be better.
I've also done a lot of things right. There have been many successes, many friendships, many amazing opportunities. There have been people who have come and gone, each one impacting me in some valuable way. There have been other people who have stayed around--these I know will be life long friendships.
There's been a lot of darkness in my life. Ever since I was about ten I've really struggled with depression, anxiety, and the normal awkward, insecure feelings every teen faces. Now I still struggle sometimes, but it's so much easier to really take in the good things. There's so much more light now, more than there ever has been. Looking back to the beginning of my second decade, I see a huge difference in who I am now and who I was then. I'm still pretty insecure, but compared to how I was even a year ago I'm different.
Really though--who isn't insecure? We're all putting on a bit of a front for the world--that's why family is so great. They know what scares you, what makes you furious, what weird things you love; they've heard you cry, scream, even swear. And they still love you anyway. That's another thing I've come to appreciate more. I love my family.
Looking back, I've come a very long way. Looking forward, I've still got a very long way to go. One day at a time. On to decade number three.