I was in the car driving home today, and this song came on the radio.
The first time I heard it, Ammon and I were in the car together, and he remarked on how painfully awkward it is sometimes to hear people younger than you talk about their life experiences with a lot of weight, in the same way that older people do. I thought it was an interesting point, but I really wasn't sure where I stood on the notion.
When I heard that song today, it made me realize that we don't choose when we have our most formative, life-altering experiences. We all collect experiences as we go through life, and it's true that younger people simply have fewer life experiences. They just haven't had the opportunity to gain as many as someone older. BUT I also realized that it's probably really unfair to diminish the experiences that a younger person has. You never know when those pivotal moments are going to happen that really shift the direction your whole life goes. They could happen at 8 years old, 16, 22, or 62. It's only when we reflect back that we can truly see our experiences for what they are.
For me, as I look back on my life I am struck by two moments that have played a profound role in shaping my current world. The first was going away to college at 18. Moving over 1,000 miles away and not knowing anyone really changed the way I interact with other people, and the way that I see myself. While I am by nature pretty introverted, going away to college taught me that I can put myself out there, and make friends. All things I am struggling to re-learn 12 years later, but I know I can do it, and that's valuable to me.
Oh, 2003. Dang, I feel so old sometimes. Also, outdoor lifeguarding did such awesome things for my hair - doesn't everyone love a little green in their frizzed-out hair? Also, that girl... one of the first real friends I made at college, and I still adore her. She is the best.
The second experience was when I was 24. I had just gotten out of another relationship that was fairly short-lived, and I was at a loss for what the problem was. Why couldn't I just find love already??? I had lunch with my mom, and as we were sitting on the patio at Chipotle eating our burrito bowls, she gave me the best advice of my life. She told me to stop dating boys that wanted me to help fix them - that if I needed to save something so badly, I should o down to the humane society and adopt a puppy, because as far as saving humans goes, we can really only save ourselves. I mulled on that for a time. And then I made a critical decision - no more dating losers who wanted me to help them get their lives together. I didn't want to be the reason someone did "xyz" thing they thought they needed to do, I wanted whoever I was with to do those things for themselves, and because they knew their self worth.
Within weeks of making that decision, this guy asked me out for Chipotle. It was kismet. And what you might not see in this picture that was taken less than six months after we started dating was that we were already head over heels in love with each other - even if we weren't ready to say it out loud.
What has been the most significant experience so far in your life? How old were you?