Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year In Review

Looking back, I realized that 2009 has been the most volatile year of my life thus far. Since last January, I’ve lived on three continents, studied three languages, made and moved away from friends, graduated one school and started another. On this, the eve of 2010, permit me a moment of corny reflection.

I love being in my “mid” 20s. I’ve never liked the idea that any given period would represent the “best days of my life” (because really, what a bleak outlook on the rest of life), but if I did, this would be a top contender. There’s something really satisfying about being old enough to look back, at least a little bit, and see how much I’ve changed; I see how scraps of a life here and there have culminated into a self. Then, too, there is the realization that this self is at once enduring and fluid—not at all like we imagined it when we were children and spoke of that definitive moment “when I grow up”.

College was amazing, and I will always cherish the memories and friends from my time on the River. But it’s nice to know that there’s a wide world beyond St. Mary’s, and although I can still be wild when I want to, I can also enjoy calmer nights in with friends without the fear that I’m missing out on the party. I’m old enough that I’m finally starting to look my age and be treated with the respect of adulthood after a single glance. When it doesn’t come naturally, I’m confident enough to command it. Professors, bosses, landlords—none are as intimidating as they once were, and all are my peers, more or less. This isn’t to say that we live the same day-to-day experiences but rather that we recognize the points we are each at in our journeys and can share in the pride of the milestones. I can see my parents with all their strengths and weaknesses as real people, with lives apart from mine, and more importantly I see my life as apart from theirs and appreciate them the more for it.

I’m still as passionate as ever about travel. But the more I do it, the less pressing it becomes, and I can already feel the caffeinated, party-hostel-night train energy of my earlier adventures mellowing to a more laid-back momentum. The more I see and the more people I meet, the greater appreciation I have for the world’s rich diversity as well as its subtle, underlying sameness. Both are comforting: there is much more to know than I ever will or want to, but there is a wisdom that can be tapped into everywhere if I can learn to see it. I can also feel my tumbleweed soul starting to send out roots. Who knows where I’ll be when they finally find the earth, but after a few years of living out of suitcases, settling down (for a while) is starting to sound less like “settling”.

There’s a whole lot of world out there, and I'm ready for it. Happy 2010, everyone.

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