As the second week of March approaches fast, there is only one thing I look forward to. My birthday. No matter how old I am or where I am, I am the kind of person who is always looking forward to birthdays and celebrating birthdays and counting down to the days remaining for everyone’s birthdays.

It is only natural then that I continue to be the same enthusiastic person when my birthday draws near.

While I am excited this year, I cannot help but feel old as I turn 20.

As I turned 19 last year my friend told me that this was it, this was the last so-called “teenage year” of mine and that although I was an adult 19 still counted as a teen.

But yesterday as I spoke to her she reminded me of how there were only a few more days for me to be an “official teen” and that I would be a proper adult soon, who would have completed two whole decades on this planet.

I found my excitement diminishing and panic filling me, I did not want to turn old. I may be 19 on the exterior due to my physical appearance mentally I was still a 9 year old and I was happy to be one.

As I spoke to my friend about this she could not help but correct me that I was a 19 year old with the mind of a whiny, annoying, carefree 9-year-old — yes there is apparently a difference between a 9-year-old and me.

As panicked as I have ever been and as scared as I am to turn a year older this year, I cannot help but look back on a few things that I accomplished this past year beginning March 9, 2017, up to today.

I learned that sometimes it is fine to be alone and sometimes when you are overwhelmed being left alone is the best. When you are alone you truly learn and understand what you are capable of doing and how strong and enduring you are. You identify yourself and more importantly you learn to appreciate and love yourself. For you are the greatest company you can ever have and choose.

I learned to challenge myself and focus on the positives. At around 5 months into this new year of mine, I faced the biggest challenge of my life. I had to move to college. A new country, a new continent, new time zone, new setting, new surroundings. I had to start fresh and there is nothing that I would change.

The new friends I made, the people I met, the classes I took (even ENG 101 and ANT 252), the memories I have, there is nothing I would change.

I learned that sometimes you need to force yourself to go out of your comfort zone to be happy and that you should challenge yourself whenever you have the opportunity. Whatever the outcome may be you should focus on the positive for there is always a positive outcome in everything.

I learned that there are all kinds of different people that will walk into your life. As cliché as this sounds, you don’t always need the people you meet.

The friends you first make are not gonna last with you forever, the ones that stick with you are the ones who truly care about you and that every lost person is not a loss but it teaches you to be more careful and more cautious in the future.

Finally, I learned that every moment counts and what I do today matters more than worrying about what I will have to do tomorrow and what I did in the past. I experienced that I may or may not have it all together but I realized that I am strong, I am tough and that if I give it my best I can do whatever I want and achieve whatever I wish for and maybe even more.

While this year has taught me a lot of lessons that I will cherish forever, there is nothing that I would like to change and I would like to give a special shout-out to my family, my friends (especially the friends who turned into family here at state) my teachers and my acquaintances, you all have in more than one way impacted my life and there is nothing that I am sad about.

I am grateful this year turned out to be a great year and can be nothing but hopeful that this 19-year-old taking on the responsibility of being a 20-year-old can find similar happiness if not more in the next year.