On Thursday, I turned 20 years old, which is incredibly meaningful and meaningless all at once. Age is a construct, we are growing older all the time, becoming wiser, so why one day specifically has always been a mystery to me. Who cares how old I am? I wake up and do my best to learn every day, why does this day matter above all others? Who is to say that age is all that determines maturity and experience? There are 17 and 18 years olds who have dealt with and experienced so much more than I have.
At the same time, it is incredible to think of 20 years. 20 years is all I know, it feels like a millennia of life yet my time here has only been a blip of time in human history. How can something so short feel so long, so full of meaning, so incredibly precious and yet so volatile? At any moment it can end, and that end scares me, even though I know deep down that it will come regardless. Why is life worth holding on to above all else, and why do we choose to hold onto it regardless of the consequences or seeming inconveniences it holds?
There are no good answers to any of these questions, but I know that the small joys of life have been worth the long periods of pain and displeasure. My experience has been shaped by perseverance and self-acceptance, from my Learning Disability to my time in sports and school. I was born with a family who gave me opportunities, but that does not mean anything was handed to me. I worked for everything, because my setbacks forced me to. I frankly was lucky, the human spirit always seem to surprise and amaze, so many find meaning out of so little. In 20 years there are some people I can only hope to emulate, finding joy in the harshest of circumstances.
So, in my first 20 years of life, is there anything I can suggest or think of as advice? To me, perseverance and perspective are crucial. Each life is nothing but a speck of dust, a blimp in time, so trying to make important meaning on a huge scale is tiresome and not worthwhile. Do your best to make changes where you feel are needed, and never forget who brought you up and where you came from. Life is short, and we should all strive to do the best we can in the limited time we have. We will screw up, make mistakes, do and say things we regret, such is the mess we called life. However, the will to continue, to strive, will be rewarded with something incredibly meaningful. 20 years later my life feels more meaningful than ever before, and I cannot thank everyone who has helped me throughout the first 20 years of my life to get me here. Here is to the next 20, and to the unflappable determination of the human spirit.