In just a matter of days, I will be twenty years old. On the small scale, from year to year, I am just one year older, and that process is absolutely nothing new. However, on the large scale, on the timeline of my life, turning twenty is kind of a big deal. From the time I was in elementary school, my perception of "teenager" was always that it is the be all, end all of my existence. Life revolved around being a teenager. Now that I've just about passed through that stage in my life, there are many unknowns I have to face. Granted, I am still in college so my life is still planned out for me for at least the next two years, but then what? Do I go to grad school? Get an internship? Buy an RV and travel around the United States for a year?
Honestly, I couldn't begin to tell you. I know what it is I want to do, and that is travel. But is that what's practical? Probably not. But finding an internship or applying to fifty businesses does not appeal to me in the least. And that is, I think, because I don't think that one can really grow as a person through working in an office. I do agree that a person can learn there and grow to a degree, yes, but what fulfillment for the soul can one find in a 9 to 5 job enclosed (trapped, if you will) in an office doing the same thing from day to day, year to year? That regularity is NOT what I want. I want to be spontaneous and meet new people, experience new things. I believe that life is a series of experiences, but it's not a one-way street--it's our responsibility as people to meet these opportunities halfway to make them experiences. For example, if someone were going to hand me a pencil, he can only do so much--he can push it at me, throw it at me, or just hold it in front of me, but I will not acquire the pencil until I make an active decision to put my hand out and receive it. I believe life is very similar to this. Unless we make an active decision to accept the opportunities that life hands us, we will never really experience them and receive what they are trying to teach us.
Turning twenty has drawn my attention to the fact that my life is going to be changing drastically in the next few years. My years of teenager-dom are going to be behind me, just memories (mostly great memories, but memories nonetheless). As I move forward, I want to do what I want. As Ayn Rand explains in The Fountainhead, it's crucial to be selfish. Don't be selfless--selflessness leads to the definition of one's self in everyone and everything around you, except yourself. Literally lacking a self. I don’t want that, and I don’t think any self-respecting person would either. It's so important to do what you want. It may be crazy, it may be unconventional, it may be against every expectation society has for you (grade school, high school, grad school, internship, corporate world), but at least you find fulfillment in it. Because that's ultimately what life is for isn't it, to be enjoyed?