At The Corner Of 20

At The Corner Of 20

Carrie Bradshaw kinda thing without an excessive million dollar debt in couture.

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I was asked what I saw myself doing at 25, years ago. I recited an endless list of what I wanted to do and be, but I was lacking. I was lacking an individualistic aspect of what I envisioned myself as a mid 20s woman. I saw myself walking down the aisle at 25, having an apartment in the most "it" neighborhood of San Diego, and the list goes on. I had let myself be swooned into what was expected of me by cultural and social aspects. Up until a certain point in my life, I was convinced that was going to be it for me, you know, the 'dream life'. I figured I'd finish my undergrad by 22, I'd most likely be engaged sometime after that, and I'd have a vogue wedding in the vineyards of Mexico.

And that reality was accepted by me.

I came to crash into emotional walls when I began to really think about my future. I began to ask myself what I truly wanted. What did I want? I told myself to forget about everything I had planned and to really shut everything out and be honest with myself. I had always had a thirst for adventure and challenging myself, yet, I had already conformed myself with things that reflected someone who wasn't me. I wrote down a list of things I wanted in the next five years, among them I wrote: not feeling trapped, be independent, not get a major I hated for the sake of quickness, not give up. I made the decision that if I was going to fail or succeed it would be at the result of my own doing because if the future brought good or bad I'd still be doing my own thing. I chose to live. I had to leave many things behind, I had to make people unhappy in choosing my own happiness, and I had to say no when I had always been afraid of causing discomfort. With it, I threw a dice at life and waited for it to land in the place where I would be destined to go. I was afraid, I was nervous, and at points, I felt I was gambling with my life.

I chose medicine over finance because I had never felt so purposeful as I did when I interned and saw I could change lives. I knew I had an advantage over most grads had I gone into finance because I'd go into a guaranteed job, but the moment I tasted the life of a doctor, I knew nothing would give me the almost tear-inducing emotion it gave me.

Fate threw me in the heart of San Francisco, a place, I never even considered living in. Yet, I found myself in a place very distinct from what I knew. I exchanged the lavish downtown apartment future for a small, shoe box style room. At times I wondered if the big city was consuming me at the beginning, but I came out triumphant when I mastered the art of public transportation. To that point I had accomplished many things I had once dreamed of: I was preparing myself for a future I excitedly awaited, and I was becoming independent.

At the corner of 20, my visions had changed. Yes, I have struggled a lot, maybe for the price of becoming independent in a city hundreds of miles from home, without the comfort of living in a home surrounded by a loving family, and with the fact that if I want something I have to work for it. I have cried more than I would like to admit at the fact that I don't get my way most of the time, or that life isn't as easy anymore. I've had people talk about what they think they know about me because I live in another country, people who have bet that I will lose my way and that this is just a phase. You see, I've learned that at the end of the day it is not so much about what they want to believe about me, but rather what I think of me. At the end of the day, the end of a struggle, or days I wish I could sleep more, I remind myself that I am living the life I want to live, and I am proud of myself for that.

I had to make sacrifices that at the moment made me doubt myself. I was going to lose time with my parents, siblings, watch my younger brother's transition into high school, and reduce seeing my best friends from weekly to a few times a year. I had to redirect my current life into not the easy path, but rather the one that would lead me to personal growth. At 25 I no longer saw myself in a white dress, I saw myself in a white coat. My 20s were no longer programmed to becoming another person in a bitter job, conforming for the fear of jumping into the complete unknown. If you ask me now, what I see myself doing in my 20s I'll tell you I have no idea. I have no set schedule for anything, but I am continuing a steady road. Ultimately, that's one of the most important things: fall, run, cry, laugh, whatever you want, but don't stop walking. The destination is there, but the key lies in how you travel the road.

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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A Little Glimpse Into What It's Like To Grieve In Your 20s

Debunking the stigma behind grief in the everyday young adult

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A few days before last semester my little brother, Ethan, took his life. After years of him struggling to find his place in the world, he put his troubles and sorrows to rest. I had just moved into my sorority house to begin my Junior year, and a few days later I awakened late at night with several missed calls and messages. My dad texted me saying, "Ethan passed away Blair, dad is so sorry." When I first read the text, I had to keep reminding myself that it was real. Shortly after receiving that, my parents and family friends came to bring me home from school.

The next few days were filled with a roller coaster of emotions. I was reuniting with old friends and community members for days on end while we were all trying to understand the immense pain that my brother had felt. Soon, I went back to school because I knew that even in times of tragedy, life goes on. Above all else, I knew it's what my brother would have wanted. Being back at school is/was interesting. I felt like I was being judged by everyone for returning to school so early. I was in no way ready to discuss my family's recent tragedy, and I am still not ready to discuss it, yet people insist on asking for information regarding my brother's death. Despite this, the people around me continuously promised to support me when I was feeling sad or hopeless. The weeks after Ethan's death had me in a complete fog, making it hard to focus even to this day.

Fortunately, not many people have to deal with the death of a sibling at such a young age. Subsequently, many are not sure how to handle such a thing. I am often at a loss for words for what this experience feels like. Often times I feel bad that people don't know how to respond to me. Grief is something I would never wish upon someone.

Even on the days I feel alone, I know that there are people here to support me.

It means the world to me when people reach out and ask how I am doing, or to meet up with me for something as simple as ice cream. I appreciate this more than one knows.

On top of dealing with my brother's death I was dealing with rejection from a boy for the first time. Rejection of any kind is difficult, and is something everyone experiences in their life. Although I have felt rejection in many forms, especially being an aspiring actress, this was the first from a potential suiter. The loss of any friendship has been so hard after losing my brother. It has been hard to process other aspects of my life, and especially the crazy life of dating and being a 20-year-old in college. Moving on, and separating my grief from that rejection has been no easy feat.

As my semester was coming to a close, I ran into the boy I was interested in at a holiday party. This time of year had proven to be hard for me when I thought of the happy times spent with my brother during the holidays. That night was the first time I was unable to compose myself and put my best face forward being the actress I am. I couldn't hide my emotions anymore and I was overcome with grief. I had hit rock bottom. This journey has consisted of immeasurable self-doubt and soul searching.

Soon after the holiday party, I was told by someone who has been an authoritative figure to me, that "I was grieving weirdly" and that I "should go home for the rest of semester and take an incomplete". There were only two weeks left of the semester and my grades were great. I was so deeply offended by this notion, and that they had the audacity to judge the way I was grieving. I have been trying my best, and that is all that I can do. Despite this toxic conversation, I finished out the semester strong and took my well-deserved three-week break. My break was filled with much needed respite, creative inspiration, and time to collect my thoughts.

Coming back to school, I had an open conversation with my community on the reasonable steps they could take to support me in my journey for the rest of the school year. All someone that is grieving asks, is for you to sympathize with them. Thankfully, it was received well and I look forward to my upcoming semester.

There is often a stigma behind people who are actively grieving. Yes, I am going through a lot, yes, I am sad. But that doesn't mean I am incapable of loving life and experiencing things going on around me at school or in my life. This especially includes dating. I have learned that it is okay to embrace my feelings and express them in whatever way I deem fit. Grieving the loss of my brother has also made me stronger than ever. I can handle anything and I am ready to make my impact on the world.

Everyone experiences pain, struggle, grief, etc. What matters most, is how they come out of it. I want to continue the message of kindness. I am so grateful for my newfound bravery and at the end of the day, I will always miss my brother's unique perspective and outstanding sense of humor. If he were here today, first he'd probably roast me and then I know he would only want the best for me. In the end I plan to live my happiest life.

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