On being 21 and on becoming a palindromic age in less than one day



I am writing this on my birthday eve, otherwise known as October 22nd to laypersons. Twenty-one is the age to be in the U.S., as many who read this know. It means that you are truly, truly, an adult. I guess that’s true. I’ve been 21 for a year and I guess I’m an adult, but I’m not a grown up. So what was it like being 21? Did it feel different? Short answer: Nahhh. Long answer: I guess I would have to reflect on the past year. So here goes…


My birthday last year was spent at university (the year before was spent in London). I remember that in the morning, I had to meet with a classmate at the library for a presentation, and then my friend Jess bought me a hot chocolate at Starbucks. We then went to her dorm, as my friend Cat insisted that I stop by. Waiting for me were two more friends, Alex and Morgan, and a chocolate cake containing and covered with M&Ms, my favorite candy. It was super delicious, along with pumpkin ice cream yummm. I was also given a replica of Bert the Farting Hippo from NCIS (look it up; it’s the best show). Later, I met up with Cat again, along with our friend Eva, and we took the metro to a Mat Kearney concert. I took many photos with the Happy F*cking Birthday camera that Jess gave me. After the concert (which was amazing), Cat and I returned to my dorm with our friend Melissa and shared wine from the winery of my friend Gretchen. Overall, it was a very satisfying birthday, I must say!


NOTE: Things mentioned above that don’t exist in Cameroon: Starbucks, M&Ms, pumpkin ice cream, metros, Happy F*cking Birthday cameras, and Mat Kearney. My birthday this year will most definitely be very different.


Anyway, the rest of my senior year was full of stress – job stress, school stress, internship stress, oh-god-I’m-graduating-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-stress, and maybe-I’m-joining-the-Peace-Corps? stress. Looking back, it went by quickly and I think that there are many things that I could have, would have, should have done, but I don’t mind. I spent time with my college friends, called other friends and family regularly, and tried not to take for granted the people in my life. Over this past summer, whilst completing the medical review and other necessary documents for the Peace Corps, I lived with my mother back in my hometown and volunteered at the HIV clinic at the hospital where I was born. Back to my roots. I also took advantage of my first flexible summer by visiting friends and family.


As you likely know, I left for the Peace Corps in mid-September. A little over one month later, I sit in my room writing this.


So, I guess 21 meant growing up, even if only a little bit. I think that sometimes age is a state of mind. How old or young you are can be measured by how old or young you feel. Often, it is not so easy to guess a person’s age without knowledge of his or her appearance. How do we measure maturity and scale or quantify personality? This is not easy to define. Maturity does not have to be relative. My fellow trainees have all had different experiences, and at times, I feel as though they have “done more” than me. But it is all subjective. You cannot compare experiences with a rubric or a scale. Our experiences can define us, but only in the way we let them. I have learned so much in my almost 22 years, and I look forward to my 23rd year of life bringing even more experiences.


[Author’s note: Birthday post coming soon!]


2 thoughts on “On being 21 and on becoming a palindromic age in less than one day

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