My Guide to 2018

I am a bit late on this but I thought it would still be a good idea to go over my year in smaller tidbits. It was a year of personal growth and change, and while many seem to despise 2018 I could not have asked for a more incredible year. Here are some highlights.

Favorite Movie: Minding the Gap – Bing Liu’s masterful documentary struck a cord with me I could never quite shake, as its chronicles of skateboarders transitioning into adulthood are joyous and heartbreaking. I used to skateboard when I was little, and so I understood the motivation these three people felt. It was a way to break rules and to rebel from what was expected of you, or to challenge yourself in new ways. The underlying motivations for skateboarding turn to their home situations and also towards domestic abuse, creating a powerful portrait of life in America. A must watch. I gave it a 9.7 and I think that is modest if anything.

Runner-up: First Reformed – Paul Schrader’s haunting tale of a Reverend having a crisis of faith is the most topical and relevant film to come out in 2018. It is slow and intentionally still, creating an austere sense until it breaks its own rules. Amanda Seyfried is most impressive, as she plays the woman who can most understand the two men who are at the focal point of this story. Please do me a favor and see it. It is truly special.

Favorite Book: When Breath Becomes Air – A book I picked up off of my uncle’s shelf quickly turned into one of the most searing and poignant books that I read this year, as the pain, trauma, and delight of a neurosurgeon in his final days was a beautifully rendered story. It is tough and heartbreaking, but it finds a way through sheer determination to find its voice, and for Paul to get the auto-biography he always deserved. A book I loved and I think others will as well.

Runner-Up: A Storm of Swords – While I am still not finished with this book, George R.R. Martin continues to amaze me with his deep and empathetic take on characters most of us would have looked away from. This was the first in the series to dig deep into many of the villains of this story, and it makes for incredible reading and deep emotional thought. Certain scenes killed me, and the major deaths in this story keep the incredible shock-value, but what I was consistently amazed by was Martin’s care for everyone in the story.

Favorite Moment: NIRCA National Championship Meet – It is hard to overstate how incredible my experience was running in freezing cold Shelbeyville, Indiana with my club track team. All of our hard work came to fruition, and we had a blast while doing it. I can not thank my team enough for all they have given me and I hope to get to go to more incredible meets in the future.

Defining Change in Character: Openness – So much of my time before 2018 I spent my time in a bubble, resulting in stereotypes about people who live outside of my own. After spending a year away from home and traveling the midwest as well as meeting people from all over, I had the incredible opportunity to meet people from the furthest corners and reaches of the midwest and beyond. This has allowed me to be much more open to new experiences and new people, and my slight fear of breaking my bubble has turned into exuberance to discover others.

What will define 2019: Resolve – 2019 looks to be a year that will be hard, with a lot of goals set and plenty of things to achieve. My hope is that by the end of 2019 I can be in an even better spot than I am now, and that will take strength and resolve to get through it. I know I, as well as you can, but it will take time. To an amazing 2018 and an even better 2019.

20 years later

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.