Here’s to Twenty-One

One week ago today, I turned twenty-one. It doesn’t feel that different, but we all know it never does. While celebrating my birthday with some friends, I was asked a simple yet remarkably complex question; “What have you done in the last twenty-one years?” I had no idea how to answer. I recall sarcastically saying I’d become abnormally cynical and not much beyond that.

Since then, I have turned this question over and over in my head so much it is now as loud as the rumbling thunder of a storm overhead. What have I done in the last twenty-one years? The answer to that, simply put, is more than I thought.

I’ve lived in Utah, Colorado, Texas and California. I’ve moved eight times, occupied ten houses and attended nine schools.

I graduated high school {somehow}, and I’m now at Utah State University, at which I will be double majoring in global communication and print journalism, with a minor in German.

I have dealt with the many trials of having mental illness for over a decade. I’ve gone from medication to medication, doctor to doctor, and even hospital to hospital. In time, I was ultimately diagnosed with bipolar type 1 and ADHD.

I spent a year inactive from the church I grew up in, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I eventually began to be active again, although it’s still often a struggle. I even submitted my papers to serve a mission! Much to my disappointment, I was honorably released immediately and unable to serve at all.

I’ve traveled internationally, gotten a tattoo, published a website for my art {it’s still in the works}, learned the basics of three languages, and I’ve even been engaged.

Now, that’s all just been there, done that stuff. A factual timeline of what my life has been, if you will. But who have I become in that time?

I have learned my greatest desire is to pursue international photojournalism, to meet people, learn their stories, hear their voices and share their lives with the world through my lens and my pen.

I have come to see everyone’s perception of the world is entirely different, and true power and wisdom comes when you are capable of stepping not only into someone else’s shoes, but also into their world.

I have learned what it is to love and to be loved. I have come to gain a greater understanding of the fundamentals of friendship and family. I’ve felt heartbreak and loss. I have learned to be my own person without the ones I have lost along the way. I have learned to let go.

I have found a plethora of things I love. I have discovered there is so much I want to do while I am alive. I have come to embrace this life and the horizon opportunities I have ahead of me.

I have learned I am NOT alone in my fight against mental illness. I have learned how to keep going and how to ask for help. I have learned the fight will never be over and that there are so many things I can live for.

There is so much I have left to do, but I cannot deny all the things I have done. In these past twenty-one years, I have lived. I have lived reluctantly, quietly and painfully; but I have also lived valiantly, loudly and without hesitation.

Every day the battles I face rage on. The battles may be the same each day, but I am not. Each day I grow, I learn, I live. So, here’s to twenty-one. Here’s to everything I have done in the time I have been given so far. And here’s to the next twenty-one years as well.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s