As you go through life, you often times look toward the future and ponder on what could be. You reflect on the past and look at your life now in present day and see if you have grown from your successes and learned from your mistakes.
I sit here writing this on the eve of my 22nd birthday and up until now, I was dreading it.
Ever since I was 18 years old, I had this certain feeling like I was mourning the passing of each year that went by.
On the weeks leading up to my 19th birthday, I was saddened by the fact that I would never be considered “barely legal.” I always thought that 19 was the uneventful year between two exciting times in a person’s life, being 18 and old enough to get into the clubs, buying cigarettes and starting your next phase in life—hitting your 20s.
I soon realized my petty fear was far from the truth, when 19 ended up being one of the best years of my life.
I traveled, met my best friend, had way too much fun and just enjoyed being a teenager.
On the eve of my 20th birthday, once again I encountered my fear. I was going to stop being a teen, and that scared me. The thought of entering my 20s was something that frightened me, I began thinking of everything that some people accomplish in their 20s, graduating from college, getting a big-girl job, getting married and starting a family.
This was something that I couldn’t see happening in my 20s, and given that my parents were married at 25 and 26, I felt like I only had six years max to grow up.
Like the year before, I realized entering the 20s club wasn’t all that bad in fact—it was fun. I felt somewhat proud and mature when someone would ask me my age and I would respond with 20.
Things began to look up and unlike the years before I anxiously waited for the day I turned 21. No cover charges, no restrictions, freedom was knocking at my door and I was ready to embrace it.
As expected, on the eve of my 21st birthday I was struck with the sudden realization that I had nothing to look forward to. I won’t have the feeling of anticipation for each birthday to come. I looked at it as a natural aging process, nothing special.
Now today I sit here still grasping on to that senseless fear, but slowly letting it slip through my fingertips.
I realized that each day is a day to be celebrated whether it is your 1st, 22nd, 50th, or 100th birthday. Every day, you have the opportunity to look forward to something new, and life is a gift that is not defined by a number.
As cliche as it sounds, age is really just a number. I can’t wait to be 22, and like years past, I will continue to live life by not setting expectations.
I will simply live day-by-day and enjoy the gift I was given.
I have new experiences waiting on this 22nd year, and even though I will always carry a hint of worry as each year passes, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Amanda Guillen may be reached at [email protected]