|Sunset over the Pacific Ocean as seen from my alma mater.|
My 20th birthday and year was a lot of fun. I went to Disneyland (an annual birthday tradition) with my (then) two best friends. My social life was awesome. I had my favorite undergraduate semester that spring I turned 20. A couple of weeks after my birthday I was offered a contract with an agency (something that would've taken my life in a completely different path) that I ultimately walked away from. It was what I thought I wanted... but there was something in me that made me decline it. Interestingly enough, it was also the year that I remember first being offended by what someone said about Catholicism. The older brother of a friend -- who was/is an atheist -- had been watching for announcement of a new pope following the death of Pope St. John Paul II quite intently. After a while he remarked about how he felt stupid doing it since he didn't care... but in such language that it stirred something in me (regarding Catholicism) that I'd never felt before. I didn't think twice about it though.
I reverted to the faith shortly after I turned 21. I clearly remember two big things happening that summer: the World Cup in Germany and my reversion. I got sick a couple of weeks into my 21st year and the doctors couldn't figure out what it was. Someone had the audacity to tell me that they didn't think I would make it to 24. I had been an extraordinarily healthy child and teenager so the suddenness of the illness was scary. Prayers to St. Jude began... as did my reversion.
I started this blog when I was 22. I also came really close to take the "big plunge" (the then fella and I talked future plans) but things didn't work out. 23 was the age in which I started the original draft of Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide, which is completely different than what it ended up being. 22 and 23 were the years that my faith began to grow... and prepare me for what was to come. It was also the time in which Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati and St. Therese became the saints that helped me through the rest of my 20s. Oh, and I also discerned the religious life between 22 and 23 but for all the wrong reasons.
I lost my father when I was 24. For my 24th birthday, my father gave me the best gift I've ever been given: he returned to the Church and made his first confession in over 40 years. I also delayed my undergraduate education for yet another year (which I put on hold a couple of times between 19 and 23) while I grieved. I had my first article published in Envoy Magazine, another article followed when I was 25.
I rung in 25 with the biggest party I'd ever had. I think everyone was trying to make me feel better about it being the first birthday without my dad. I started my two-year prison sentence at the CINO alma mater. A big (delayed) milestone: I finally got my driver's license. That's a whole 'nother story in itself.
I finally graduated college at 26 (and I recently wrote a retrospect on the blog). I started working as a freelance writer a couple of months out of college... which is basically how I'm ending my 20s -- I have a couple of articles to write before Saturday. Yep, 26 was a pretty quiet year, which was fine because...
27... oh, 27... you were the worst year of my 20s. I don't miss you at all! Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I also got sick again at 27, which I'm still recovering from (the nearly 20 lbs weight drop, stomach issues, etc; I'm finally within healthy weight and I can eat a lot of things I couldn't then). Financially, it was also the worst year. Let's just say I wouldn't wish year 27 on anyone.
My first novel (5 years in the making!) was published at 28. It was a big year for me for several personal reasons. Let's just say that it was the year that whatever delays I had in the "growing up" department finally happened and I became comfortable with who I am as a person. It was arguably my favorite year of the second half of the decade.
The novel sequel (London Calling; the Kindle version of which is currently on sale) was published at 29. This has been the year that I feel like my life has finally gotten back on course... but with a better, clearer idea of what I want. My teens were disastrous on so many levels and I think I did most of my growing up (thus far) in my 20s so I'm glad that I didn't jump into a lot of things I thought I wanted.
In a weird way it seems like my life was on pause for the majority of the decade... because I needed to do a lot of reevaluating. I honestly felt stagnant and unsure of where my life was going. It's only been in the past 11 months that I've seen myself really going forward in all areas of my life -- education (grad school), career (still writing but I'm aiming to teach as well), and we'll see what God has in store for me in the fella department; definitely dodged a ton of bullets in that area in my 20s.
Despite the ups and downs in this decade, I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. I lost many friendships -- especially after my reversion (I can count only a handful of people who've been in my life since before my reversion), I lost my dad, I felt lost for a good portion of it... but I gained so much more than I could've ever dreamed.
So, goodbye (in 5 days) 20s. You were an interesting decade but I seriously cannot wait to see what God had in store for me in my 30s. As my beloved Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati used to say: "Verso l'alto" (to the heights)!
I might write again before the big day but I don't know how busy I'll get in the next couple of days so I wanted to get this post published just in case. :D
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D