Saturday, August 1, 2015

Reflecting on Nineteen

See, I told you it wouldn't be too long until I returned to you guys. It hasn't even been two weeks. And in those two weeks, I haven't done much of anything worth reporting, so it's not like you really missed out. Just lots of working and thinking and spending money--nothing too out of the ordinary. But I have really appreciated the awesome reception my last blog post received; I decided to post a link to this blog on Facebook, which is a notion that sort of freaked me out, but I got some nice responses and validation from some of my friends.

Anyway, it's August now, which means it's officially my birth month. And I guess it's officially my birth week too? I don't know, actually: is your birth week the week leading up to your birthday, or is it the week that follows? I'm not too sure; I would imagine it's similar to the Twelve Days of Christmas in that regard, which I also don't know the chronology of either (Is Christmas the first of those twelve days, or the last?? My very, very limited knowledge of Christianity doesn't quite cover that realm of information).

Okay, reading that back I realize that it sounds like I'm trying to liken my birthday to Christmas, but I promise I'm not that self-important. I'm just saying I need to know what day I should start expecting people to give me all their attention and to essentially worship the ground I walk on. Hmm...on second thought, maybe I am a little conceited...okay but seriously: my birthday is this Monday, August 3rd, (mark your calendars, everyone!) and I'm about to turn twenty. To be honest with you, I'm very unenthused by the whole thing. Not to say that I'm not looking forward to my birthday, because birthdays are fun, but there's nothing special about turning twenty. I guess there was nothing exciting about turning nineteen, either, but there's especially nothing cool and novel about the big two-oh. I'm no longer considered a teenager, but I can't hustle up to a bar and order myself a drink. I'm looked at as somehow more adult than in the past years, but I don't gain any new privileges that weren't handed over when I turned eighteen. Twenty is just some weird filler year between teen angst and getting a horizontal drivers license. Twenty isn't a bang, but a fizzle.

I mean, I am looking forward to my birthday in theory. Everyone loves that one day a year where it's all about them. Everyone loves cake and presents. So in that sense, yes, I am excited to turn twenty. And really, I'm not too bummed about losing my grip on my teenage years. It's not like I was super crazy and was the type of teen that would make Ke$ha proud. But nineteen was a really good year, that's all. I have a lot of great memories from being nineteen, and though I've been nineteen for 364 days, I'm not quite sure I've wrung dry all of those good times. So in an effort to reminisce, and to get excited for the year ahead, here's an abbreviated reflection on Being Nineteen, and all that it meant to me:

The year started off on a really high note, as my actual birthday fell on a Sunday. And totally true to the type of person I am, I opted to host Sunday brunch for my friends instead of having a rager that Saturday night. I bought a gorgeous--albeit overpriced--dress that remains unworn in the back of my closet since its one use, and I cooked a wide spread of food while in the company of my favorite people. Easily my best birthday party in recent years. A totally authentic representation of me and of my idea of a good time. I imagine I'm not in the company of many people my age when I say I'd prefer a quiet brunch over an actual birthday party, but since when have I been the norm? Anyway, not the point; the point is, nineteen got off to a good start.

Less than one week later, I shipped off to start my sophomore year at JMU--I left so early because it was time to start training to become an RA. And while that was only a one year gig, I'm so happy I did it. Not necessarily for the job itself, because I didn't exactly love busting freshmen for carrying cases of Keystone through the dorm halls, but because the people I met because of the position are so important to me. Now a year since I started, I consider most of my RA staff to be good friends of mine. We all have different backgrounds, beliefs, interests, and idiosyncrasies, but I love them all. We stayed up until 2 AM working together; we grabbed coffee together; we climbed on roofs and watched sunrises on the last day of school together. We became a weird dysfunctional squad that would never have found each other if we didn't all agree to live in Weaver Hall for the 2014-2015 school year.

And other than my hall staff, being an RA brought me closer to Abby, too. She was another brand new RA I hung out with a lot during training, because she lived in my freshman year dorm and seemed to have the same sense of humor as me. Now she's easily one of my best friends and we're moving in together in three weeks. And speaking of which, nineteen is also the year I got to make the decision to move off-campus and signed my first lease. See what I mean? Being nineteen has served me well.

What else happened this past year? I officially declared my creative writing minor, and because of that I've become so much more confident in my abilities and have worked on my craft as a writer. I've tried my hand at poetry, personal essay, and rhetoric, and somehow along the way, I gained some brilliant professors in my corner. I also interviewed for a job as a marketing assistant at my university's gym, and was offered the position. I was officially accepted into my university's Media Arts and Design program, which means I get to take classes that intrigue me and pursue a career I'm passionate about. And I'm not saying any of that to brag, it's just all spilled out as I'm reminded that nineteen was a good year in academia, too.

And God, what else? There's too much to mention in just one blog post, so I guess I'll start condensing for the sake of time. At nineteen I met wonderful people. I drank lots of coffee. I had crushes and got crushed in the process. I had a little bit of money for a short time, and then I spent it all on impulse buys. I drove around in my car. I bought 1989 on release day as soon as Target opened. I caught the common cold more than I normally do in a calendar year. I kept making a home for myself in Harrisonburg, but I missed my parents and my dog all throughout. I cowered in fear some days, and held my head up high most others. I was all over the map emotionally, and it seems crazy that in two days, nineteen will just be an age I used to be. And y'know, it's not that I'm not ready to be twenty, it's just that nineteen is the one to beat.

So in short: when I blow my candles out, I'll be making a wish that this next year of my life continues to make me more or less content. I'm going to wish for another year of trying my best, taking some chances, and believing in myself.

The next time you hear from me, I'll be twenty, and hopefully I'll be able to report back with positive affirmations from the other side.

Until then...

x,
Lauren

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