If There’s Anything I’ve Learned In My Twenties, It’s This
I’ve always felt rushed. I can’t figure out why, and yet I somehow can’t seem to shake the feeling in its entirety. I don’t know what I’m chasing and why I feel like it needs to be caught now. Maybe it’s piece of mind. Maybe it’s simply feeling like I’ve done everything I wanted.
I started writing today, but I was at a loss for words, so I left it. I went to the beach to watch the sunset instead. Today’s view was a little louder than usual. A group of girls were taking pictures with small waves hitting their ankles. They couldn’t have been older than 16 or 17. They were laughing loudly, but with the sun setting behind them, I couldn’t catch their faces. I could hear their smiles though. These girls were enjoying life.
I thought about me when I was that age. These girls seemed so free, and I wondered if this exact moment that was so average to me would be a Friday night they’d reminisce about for a while. Maybe they’d look back at their pictures and some of them would hate how their hair looked or makeup was caked. Maybe some would think this was the best they’ve looked all year. The same space and time, but so many different versions. I’ve always thought that was cool.
Almost a decade ago, when I was that age, I would have defined myself as a dedicated swimmer and nothing else. I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint my personality strengths or weaknesses. I was sad at that age. I think I would have defined myself by that, too, most likely as false justification for why I couldn’t define myself in any other way. I didn’t have a huge group of girlfriends, but I had a quiet few who made me smile. I only hope it was big enough to be heard in the dark.
I leaned against a boulder on the shore and thought about their lives and mine. They’ve still got the rest of their teens to live, maybe even college to navigate and moving away from family and all the things that have the tendency to change our lives. I hope it doesn’t for them. I hope the inevitable heartache they may experience — the lost love, lost friends, misdirection and pain — doesn’t dull their enthusiasm for the life they are living.
It’s a weird phenomenon, to be at an age where you wish you could give younger people advice. But here I am, perhaps giving myself the same advice at 24 that I wish I could give them at 17: watch the sunset with your friends as often as you can. Believe it or not, you don’t always have to look cute and pose for pictures. Sometimes it’s nice just to watch the vastness of this earth. Most times, it’s even better by yourself.
The friends in these pictures you’re taking may not always be your friends. Love them from afar if you must. Maybe you may not even want to do that. Whichever, it’s fine. Be totally, undoubtedly okay with accepting how some things in life are for a time period only. Cherish the people in your life right now as if there is no such thing as temporary, though, because some are for forever. I promise.
Find out what kind of person you aspire to be. Kind? Cool, practice kindness. Funny? Avoidant? Passionate? Courageous, adventurous, thoughtful, stern? Do them all and remember to define yourself with them. Good and bad. We’re all a work in progress, don’t worry.
You will also lose people to death. It’s unavoidable and yet still the most shocking reality we will face. Take death as an earthly reminder to notice moments.
Notice when your best friend smiles in the car to their favorite song. Notice when they don’t and then be there for them. If they make you happy, tell them. Even if it’s every hour. They need to know, and they won’t get sick of hearing it.
Give your money to those who need it more than you do. It will always, always come back to you in some form.
And my goodness, trust this life isn’t always out to get you. In fact, it rarely ever is.