Yesterday, I turned twenty.
The funny thing about birthdays is people always ask you, “How does it feel?” knowing it feels pretty much the same as the day before. The question’s almost rhetorical. The funny part, though, is as much as I feel the same as I felt on June 3rd, when I was still nineteen, and similarly the way I felt the same as when I was eighteen when I turned nineteen and so on, so much has changed.
I think that’s the hard part about life. Change is so frequently happening, yet the increments are so small that we often can’t recognize them. Day to day, we feel the same, but year to year, we notice the differences. And, at least for me, I get stuck on the feelings of staying stagnant. I want to progress through my journey in life- I want to feel more connected, I want to be more free, I want to learn more and gain more acceptance, I want to move forward- and I often don’t feel like I am.
So, to answer the question of, “How does it feel?” I remind myself that the day I turned twenty didn’t feel much different than the day before I turned twenty, but today I am far different than I was a year ago. In many ways I am the same. I still have the same tendencies, qualities, vulnerabilities, and susceptibilities, but I am changed. This year, I have moved across the country, gone to college, confronted new challenges, and faced new fears. I have accepted my struggles and the need for help. I have made new friends, learned new information (about myself, the world, and my major), and opened up to new paths. I have let go of a career path, joined a newspaper staff, written consistently for two online publications, and had two treatment stays. I have fallen and I have picked myself up. I have taken steps backward and taken steps forward. And in all of this, I have inevitably changed and grown. I am different.
So, it feels new. It feels like a decade has passed and a new decade begins. Each day, as with each hour and each minute, another chance is given to behave differently or feel a new emotion or experience something new, but there’s something to be said about a day that creates closure for the moments and hours and days that have passed. There’s a chance to remember that change has occurred, change is possible, change is inevitable, and change is happening. It reminds me that the work I put in has an impact. It reminds me to change in the direction I hope to proceed.