Do you know what an inane question is? Asking people if they feel any different on their birthday. “How does it feel now that you are…?”
Six. Able to appreciate your party, cognitive, still clueless.
Thirteen. A real teenager.
Eighteen. Practically an adult…except not.
Twenty-one. Legally able to drink…and maybe drive a rental van.
In some ways, it is a dumb question because we all know nothing magical happens while you sleep that transformed you in some profound way. At some point in the night, or during the day, you slipped by the sun one more time. Maybe that is all a birthday is. Another year of existence. But it is a question we ask anyway. Do you feel different being older?
And I have decided…I like it. I just think we say it wrong. Because when you ask the question like someone ought to feel cognitively different than they did 24 hours before, there is obviously very little to say in answer (unless something extreme happened to you during that time. Like you developed super powers or got a letter to Hogwarts or discovered you are headed to Camp Half Blood.)
But think about the question contained within the question. We recognize that something has happened. Time has passed since the last time we paid attention to your age. Are you different? Maybe the question isn’t, “do you feel different from the past 24 hours?” but, “do you feel different than you did 365 days ago?” How have you changed over the past year?
That ought to be the real question. One year of existence is never “just a year”. Its moments, moments filled with emotions and experiences. You change over the course of a year, and sometimes it is important to reflect on that.
So, hi. My name is Amy, and I turn 21 tomorrow.
A lot happened over the past year. I studied abroad at Oxford. I took the LSAT. I worked 60 hours a week. I made new friends, lost old ones. No year passes silently, but for me this has been a particularly rich one full of “coming of age” and “self discovery” and all that good stuff. I traveled to Washington DC. Served as President of College Conservatives and the Debate Team. Won two academic awards. Got dragged into countless photo shoots by my artistic, wonderful friends. Stood up as a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. Saw Les Mis in England. Took tea in Jane Austen’s old bedroom. Got lost and found again in London. Learned to drive in inner city Milwaukee. Destroyed the paper shredder at Pieper Electric.
I am not who I was, but then, we never really are by the end of the year. I have learned confidence and gained in wisdom. It did not happen in a vacuum. Once again I find myself with an irreparable debt to everyone who helped, mentored, and interacted with me over the past year. I mentioned a few experiences, but each one would not have been possible without the people around me at the time. For those who helped me get to Oxford, who prayed and gave financially, thank you. But even outside of Oxford, to my friends and family, thank you for everything you have done to help me mature and experience life over the past year.
I named this post “A glimpse of Janus” because I am reflecting on what was, but the Roman god Janus also looks at what is to be. Especially on this poor, neglected blog, I have not been good at updating people. And, as my life has taken a dramatic change over the past week, it is time to update.
I have been hired on full time with Americans For Prosperity (AFP) working as a Field Director in Wisconsin. For me, this reflects an opportunity to work long term at a “grown up job”. I love what AFP does and am super excited about this opportunity. It is like working a Generation Joshua Student Action Team full-time. AKA…awesome.
However, believe it or not, this change in job for me very likely affects you (if you actually know me) and your ability to see my face. I will not be returning to Bryan College in the Fall. I will still be a student there, but I will be taking classes online from Wisconsin. I will return for the Spring semester and graduate in May. In a way I am studying abroad again…just not very exotically.
I will miss all my friends at Bryan but as I approach this next chapter in my life, I enter it with peace. I see God’s hand at work. It is time to begin a new adventure, one maybe starting a little earlier than I expected. It is a new challenge. Instead of going where I don’t know anyone, I am staying where everyone knows me. Where family members and childhood friends remember…everything. Twice I have been given the chance to “reinvent” myself in a new, completely different world. Now I am challenged to face adulthood in the very place I have always been.
It has been a good year, but the time has come to look forward. I have tested my ability to adapt to a new environment, now I will learn if I can take on a new role in an old one place. I think I can say with confidence, by this time next year I will have plenty to say to How have you changed over the past year?