Twenty-two was certainly a year of change. It was the age at which most of my friends and myself were birthed into the “real-world” from the safe and secure wombs of our mother colleges. Feeling naked and more than a little wide-eyed, I have been testing my walking legs ever since.
A week before my senior thesis was due, I met with my advisor, who I had not spoken to in awhile about it. The meeting was a disaster, and she told me that my second chapter was basically a mess and she wished the third one did not exist, as the second was nowhere near ready to be handed in and the third gave me extra editing work. I felt overwhelmed and frustrated. I had worked hard during the fall and especially over the January term, just to be told I did not have enough time to fix all the problems. I went back to my house and I cried my eyes out, not knowing where to begin. Then I received an email from my advisor checking to see if I was doing okay. She told me that I should not despair and that I had a wonderful voice in the paper, but that sometimes it got lost. I just needed to let my reader clearly know what was happening. She said I had my argument, I just needed to believe in it and carry it all the way through. Then, I dried my tears and did not stop working until I turned it in a week later, proud of the result.
So the greatest lesson I learned at 22 was that I have to be confident in who I am and what I want out of this life. Because my advisor was right, and what she told me was true about life too. There are always going to be people and things that try and make my life feel like it is a mess. Factors that try to mire me in the past, saying it is too problematic to move forward to the next chapter. But the reality is that I cannot lose track of my beliefs. I cannot let my voice get lost, and I have to trust in myself—all the way through. If I don’t place my feet on firm ground, something will come along and sweep them out from under me, and not in the romantic sense of the phrase. And there is always time to fix my problems, as long as I am dedicated to addressing them. There is no path I can take that I could walk too far down to turn back. As I enter the 23rd year of my life, my greatest wish is that I continue to remember that the greatest discoveries along my journeys will be about myself. I am looking forward to seeing what this new year that God has blessed me with will bring.
Here is my look back and a look forward in 23 ways:
5 Things I Accomplished During the Last Year
- Graduated from Harvard
- Completed my undergraduate thesis: “Because Hers Was the Hand that Rocked the Cradle, She Would Mold the Nation”: Black Women and the Domestic Campaign, 1877-1919
- Received a post-graduate public service fellowship
- Accepted to Teach for America to teach Secondary English in Miami, Florida
- Completed a manual for my empowerment program for children on peace education and children’s rights
5 Things I Did or Places I Went During the Last Year
- Deferred Teach for America to move to Accra, Ghana for 8 months
- Held a python around my neck at a temple in Ouidah, Benin
- Burnt my leg on a motorcycle exhaust pipe in Lome, Togo
- Had an epic senior Spring Break in San Juan, Puerto Rico with my wonderful blockmates and linkmates
- Made many new and close friends I wish I had known or spent more time with earlier
5 Things I Want to Accomplish Before 24
- Implement my program here in Ghana
- Significantly help my brother with his new venture
- Commit to a path for next year
- Figure out the balance between time in the States and time abroad
- Have something published or performed that I have written
5 Things I Want to Do or Places I Want to Go Before 24
- Spend time at home in Indiana
- Spend a wonderful Christmas with Caitlin and a wonderful New Year’s with my parents and my brother Scott in December/January
- Travel to East Africa
- Review Spanish more so it won’t slowly go away
- Learn more Twi
3 Things I Learned During the Last Year
- It might not happen in a day or even a month, but things have a way of working themselves out for the best, especially when I least expect them to
- It’s okay to be a little open and a little vulnerable at the right time and with the right people
- There is no need to constantly plan out every step of the future. The present is plenty enough to enjoy.