Tag Archives: future

Officially An Adult

Today I turn 25, making me officially-officially an adult. At 18, people say you are an adult, but in reality your options are fairly limited to voting and buying lottery tickets. At 21, you can buy alcohol, which is nice, but can’t rent a hotel room.

But once you reach 25…then you are legit. You can rent a car without getting charged extra. You can rent a hotel room without worrying about age restrictions. You can basically do anything. Go anywhere. Be anyone.

All while remaining on your parents’ health insurance for one more year. Because, wouldn’t want to grow up too fast, right? (I’m kiddddingggg.)

I’m excited to turn 25. It means I made it a quarter of a century, quite a respectable achievement if I do say so myself. I’m solidly in my mid-twenties now. (Which, actually, makes me feel quite young, because who says mid-twenties? I feel like you don’t worry about the decades slipping by until you hit your 30s)

It also means my 24th year finally comes to an end. And I’m so okay with that.

It was a strange year for me. Not a bad year. I find myself quite content with the way things worked out. Many good things happened. But also many stressful things.

For starters, I slept on a mat on the floor of a living room for most of it because there was not enough space in the apartment I shared for me to have a bed. I moved into the world of undergraduates and nightly fell asleep to the sound of pounding music, drunken carousing, and the occasional whiff of pot. I gave up my van and a paycheck and learned to be a broke, dependent student again. I limped by on student loans and survived financially only because of my parents’ and Signe’s generosity. I experienced gut-wrenching anxiety for the first time in my life and spent days battling nausea that was all in my head. I struggled to make meaningful friendships and find my footing in the pressure cooker of law school. I spent my first semester back in school wondering daily if I should drop out (and if I did, how I would pay off all those law school loans!) It was a whirlwind.

But so many sweet things happened too. I made it almost my entire second semester without wanting to drop out. I found community in the Federalist Society, the Christian Legal Society, Ridgeway Church, and my AFP network. All the stress and panic about finding a summer job led to three different, amazing internships (and let me tell you, I probably would have dropped out without those internships and their reminders that 1. yes, I am an adult, and 2. there is a light at the end of the tunnel.) I gained mentors and experience and discovered a passionate hatred for the public trust doctrine. 

Law school aside, 24 involved reading 124 books, wrapping up a summer in Idaho, standing up in two weddings, seeing old friends, making new friends, flying to Tennessee, white water rafting, moving to Colorado for an incredible, restful, fulfilling summer internship, and becoming an aunt! 

My 24th year centered around learning to live in the tension of being not-quite-an-independent-adult but also not-quite-an-inexperienced-student. I didn’t always find the right balance, but I like to think I am ending on a high note. I made Law Review. I am President of my school’s Federalist Society and Treasure for the Christian Legal Society. I was accepted to study abroad in Thailand in 2019. I’ll have my own apartment this fall with an actual bed. 

There is a saying about law school: first year they scare you to death, second year they work you to death, and third year they bore you to death. As I look to 25 and the upcoming year, I already feel flickers of anxiety about how crazy my schedule looks. But I’m also excited and eager to take it on. I do not think I will ever learn to love this social place of half-student/half-adult, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can. It certainly affords me many unique opportunities. 

Today I turn 25. I’m officially-officially an adult. And maybe in being an adult, I can more confidently be a student, because no matter how it feels, the two are not mutually exclusive. Just mutually challenging. Here’s to one more (hopefully-slightly-less-roller-coaster-ish) year!


Stop It With The Expectations Already!

The problems facing our nation go beyond one generation. For years as a young person involved in politics, I have received commendation from adults willing to say their generation “messed it up” but mine must “take back the country.” They tell me I am an inspiration and that because they have failed in their duty to preserve my future, I must do my best. My generation must right their wrongs. Readily adults of all ages confess their neglect to stand in the breach and inform me that the only hope rests in me…and my generation.

Over this past weekend I have seen adults idolize the young volunteers who work with me. They are the future. The true freedom fighters. The hope of an entire nation. While I fiercely admire the young people who take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer with Americans For Prosperity, I have come to realize such lauding and expectation do more harm than good for everyone involved.

I volunteered for my first campaign at the age of 9 in 2002. Throughout high school, I campaigned for various candidates, often mobilized by Generation Joshua to key races throughout the nation. I saw the difference young people made. Family friends and total strangers praised my efforts to “save” America (whatever that really means). They extolled my generation. We would fix their mistakes. Like my young volunteers now, my friends and I breathed in the air of expectation as the world around us crumbled.

In reality, all the commendation in the world means nothing when adults, that “generation that messed up,” continue to do nothing. When apologies become excuses for apathy, the problem worsens. I volunteered for my first campaign 12 years ago. Over those years I grew from 9 years old to 21.  From a girl to an adult. While happy to praise a teenager’s efforts to save her future, what legacy have those apologizing adults left me?

In 2002, the national debt totaled $6,228,235,965,597.16[1].  Roughly 6 trillion dollars. It now stands at $17,770,123,176,000 with the expectation of reaching 21.0 trillion dollars by the end of the fiscal year[2].

In 2002, gas cost $1.34 a gallon. In 2014, around $3.67[3].

Since 2002, over 12,982,740 babies were aborted[4].

ObamaCare. Must I say more?

Most recently during those 12 years, Americans have allowed an American ambassador in Libya to be murdered without anyone truly being held responsible. They have allowed the IRS to target groups based on their political affiliation. They paid attention too late to save the veterans forced to go without the healthcare promised them. Americans have allowed the sacrifices of hundreds of brave men and women in the Middle East to go to waste as a terrorist organization wreaks havoc on all we stand for.

While praising my generation as saviors and apologizing for their own failures, adults have allowed the government to devastate our futures. What a hoax.

Yet more than our futures fall prey to praise without action. What my young volunteers cannot understand as they stand in their moment of expectation is the extreme pressure to get it right. It is a glorious thing to be praised, but not to feel like everything depends on you. When adults tell young people the future of the nation rests on their shoulders, they burden a single generation with the mistakes of generations. What good is an interest in physics or a talent for drawing when everyone expects you to save the nation?  Time and time again I have seen my peers entirely drop out of political circles partially because there is no balance between total commitment to politics and participation in outside pursuits. In fact, I would say there cannot be as long as adults expect you to run for president in 20 years. Not every teenager with an opinion on political issues and a desire to make a difference plans on becoming leader of the free world someday! Such a presumption, though often well-meaning, is condescending and shows little understanding or value for something that ought to engage the interest of every American, not just a ‘nerdy few.’

What goes on in Washington or Madison or wherever your capital may be affects everyone. Doctors, entrepreneurs, burger flippers, and movie actresses.  Young and old. Those who can vote, and those who cannot. Putting the pressure on one generation to change the course of a nation not only unfairly burdens those individuals, it neglects the full scope of the problem. All generations must stand firm to make a difference. It is not enough to vote. Older generations must model for younger ones what true civic involvement means. Yes, young people represent the future in that they will someday be old people. That does not mean they should deal with all of America’s problems in the future. Following in their parents footsteps, there is no reason to believe they will act any different from previous generations.

When adults keep kicking the can down the street, they model a behavior for the next generation. Be inspired all you like by a few young people getting involved: they represent a minority. They will continue to represent a minority until the majority of Americans of all ages realize the direction of the country depends on them now, in the present, not some misty future.

Besides continual neglect disguised with apologies and undue pressure to ‘save the nation,’ adults offer one more disservice to teenage activist. They reinforce cultural expectations with their over-the-top praise. Yes, it is wonderful when a teenager shows interest, but what makes their involvement so unusual? Must we celebrate, cajole, and comment every time someone under the age of 50 realizes adults let the government mess up their future?  Culturally, young people get treated like children! Young people have the ability to accomplish incredible things. They have energy, enthusiasm, and understanding. Why do we assume the ability to vote magically represents the ability to engage? Don’t expect less out of young people because they cannot participate in a small portion of civic involvement. Instead, encourage those young people around you to discover their potential to directly affect the civic process. Be mentors, be leaders, and be fans, but don’t tell these kids the world revolves around them because they have an opinion and want to make a difference. Similarity, don’t allow other teenagers off the hook. As citizens, they too must play a role in America’s future.

So stop apologizing! Maybe even stop praising. Get involved. Apathy kills a nation. Somewhere in this country another 9 year old girl is discovering a passion for grassroots involvement. What will your legacy look like for her? Will the next 12 years witness more complaints and inaction, or will you take a stand for her future? For her present? I am indignant. You should be too. Stop exploiting a generation with your false expectations and inaction and recognize that you must make the difference.  That is what I ask of you.

Once again, I find Patrick Henry beautifully expresses what I hope to pass on in his speech “The War Inevitable”:

“Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”

 

 

 

[1] http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm

[2] http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/

[3] http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?f=W&n=PET&s=EMM_EPMR_PTE_NUS_DPG

[4] http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf


A glimpse of Janus

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?