Just recently, I turned twenty.
When I was in high school, I had a math teacher who commented that life was split into twenty-year segments: at this point, I’m ending the first aspect of my life. I then have another twenty years, in which I would graduate from college, find a job, and live out my life. After I turn forty, I would have another twenty year cycle from that.
That aside, I think about what it means to turn a certain age every year.
With some exceptions, birthdays are a guaranteed day in which you could indulge yourself in what ever you desire. People lavish attention on you: they call you, post Facebook statuses celebrating your date of birth, you could even have a surprise party! Personally, I had friends invite me over to a nice restaurant on campus and we had a good time.
But especially when we are getting older, when birthdays have become more irrelevant because all the major milestones are hit, and there are less people recognizing your existence, and it seems like we’ve been to every special place in the world—and sometimes for times other than other people’s birthdays. So, what’s the point.
Other than New Year’s Day, birthdays are a time of reflection—being on this planet for several years as of this time, what have we done?
Of course, for the first twenty or so years, aside from geniuses and Olympic athletes and musicians, it seems like we haven’t achieved much. I personally could’ve had a novel out by age fifteen; but I didn’t make time to edit or to just live out life to get experiences needed to publish a good book. In hindsight, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing; but for other works I’ve been doing, it made it impossible to revert back to. That is something I want to work on in the next twenty-year cycle: not only finishing school, but also finishing my goals and my dreams.
And yet, I’ve experienced a lot in the first twenty years: I’ve met a lot of people, listened to their stories, faced my own challenges, ate a bunch of nice things and not nice things, laughed and cried, and crafted who I would want to be in the future. Of course, this is not to say I’m perfect after twenty years; I find myself excessively falling into what’s easy rather than what’s right and beneficial for my future. I also want to run away from the complexities and dangers of this age, rather than confronting it.
But as I look into my future, as well as the political world I inhabit in, sometimes I wonder why I’m born into this age, rather than earlier or later? The question is what I should be doing so that my birthday will not only be recognized by more people, but also a day to be celebrated due to my contributions on this planet when I go forward. The fact I can exist and help them is better than anything that can be held in one’s hand.