Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Roaring Twenties - The Beginning

In the last month and a half before my 30th birthday, I am paying homage to my twenties with a series of posts called "The Roaring Twenties." Enjoy the ride!

I came across a notebook I took with me when I traveled abroad for a second time in the spring of 2002. I was coming out of a very tough sophomore year of college, and a month-long trip to Italy and Germany had been an eye-opening breath of air that allowed me some space from my troubles back at school. On the return flight, I apparently made a list and, at the very top of the page, scribbled I'd like to share this with the world....but maybe not yet.

Well, that time is now.

I wrote this list just a week or two after my twentieth birthday. And, reading it now, ten years later, I realize that perhaps all the lessons I learned in my twenties were acknowledged in the very beginning. Just possibly not paid any attention to....

[29-year-old me's commentary]

June, 2002
(A perpetual work-in-progress...with progress being the operative word....)
  • Friendship is so important
  • People love me. [What? It's true.]
  • I have the ability to make people, including myself, laugh
  • I am beautiful [Wayyyy ahead of you, Xtina....]
  • I am a drama queen, and I love that
  • No matter how hard it is, I will get through it
  • I have the power to disentangle myself and step outside the situation for a little while to observe it...
  • ...but I always must go back eventually; running away solves nothing
  •  I can be whole and complete by myself
  • Follow urges whenever possible [My definitions of 'possible' and even what constitutes an 'urge' have certainly changed, but my outlook on urges in life has not.]
  • Friendships take effort, but the pay off is unbelievable
  • You can trust anyone as long as you trust yourself enough to have the strength to deal with their faults
  • Differences in opinion can be beautiful
  • Sometimes you need a day or two to just be sad....
  • ....but eventually, you have to get out of bed and face the world
  • Hiding can be a form of procrastination
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • My superstitions make sense only to me, and I like it that way
  • Sometimes there really is no one to blame
  • I can be a glutton for punishment
  • There are things I do not like about myself, but I've found they're mostly things no one else notices anyway [I disagree with the latter at this point in my life - people damn well do notice them. But the ones who will stick around will love you anyway.]
  • "I no longer fear the storms because I am learning to sail my own ship," -Louisa May Alcott [still a favorite quote]
  • I have an incredible family [still very true]
  • I am in infinitely interesting person [everyone is...if you take the time to listen]
  • I prefer white wine but sometimes red is necessary [in my ripe old age, this adage is flipped]
  • I speak another language excellently [At the time, I damn well did.'s pretty rusty. I am forever embarrassed when people tell native German-speaking friends and relatives that I speak German because beyond telling someone my name, the time of day, and asking for the restroom, I am pretty much lost.]
  • My gifts are many and I don't have to narrow them down [It's a blessing and a curse, my jack-of-all-trades tendencies]
  • My inner-strength is much stronger than I give it credit for
  • My body has the most beautiful curves and angles
  • There is no one thing that defines me
  • I still get scared by a lot of things, but I am learning to live with thunderstorms [they still freak me out sometimes]
  • My friends' individual strengths and weaknesses all help me grow
  • I love cities and places with water [good thing I live in Baltimore....]
  • Everyone has a story
  • Don't knock it unless you've tried it
Hence, the wisdom of my barely-20-year-old self. I haven't yet devised a list of all the things I learned in my twenties, but I imagine it doesn't veer too far from this core outline. Which leads me to believe that the thirties are about this: taking the core "you", your most basic values and structure, and becoming the best core-in-motion you can be. Actually learning from your mistakes, and taking your altruisms to heart while being open-minded enough to know you still have a lot to learn.

I can only hope my 39-year-old self will be as impressed with my 29-year-old inherent wisdom.

Next installation of the Roaring Twenties: The Jobs, or How I Paid My Way Through A Haphazard Existence.

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