Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On Growing Up

People say that you have to write what you know. Write what you know. That's a nice concept, a pretty idea, but what happens when you sit down to give voice to your thoughts and you realize that that is all you have -- just thoughts. Thoughts are incredible things, powerful, strong, world-shaking things, but they are not necessarily knowledge. The difference between saying, "I think I'm going to travel" and "I know I'm going to travel" glares at a person. It's undeniable -- thoughts and knowledge are far from the same.

I realize that I am still very young and that I am about to feed you a cliche, but go with it: the older I get, the less I know. It's infuriating to think about all of the time I've spent in classrooms and friendships and in the world only to come to this conclusion, but I think that that is part of being twenty-one years old. It's about the time in your life where the world isn't as simple, as straightforward as it used to be. Suddenly, lines that used to be straight look wiggly and black and white pictures have burst into color and prismatic effects. I'm old enough to see dotted outlines of what should be and what should not be, but not yet enough of an adult to fully realize what is actually important right now and what isn't.

I know the basics, the foundations. I know where I'm from and what I believe about God and faith and family, but what about the rest? What about the things that make an individual an actual independent, thinking, breathing, growing individual? What do I actually know now that I can take with me when I leave this place? And what should I know now? What does a twenty-one year old need to have figured out?

I know that I'm young and I need to enjoy it. I know that I need to go on adventures and develop an appetite for new things. This is the time of my life where I can stay up too late and watch Jersey Shore with my little brother and have conversations until the sun comes up about dreams and the future and to walk away from homework every so often, just to breathe fresh air and really live. And I know that I should, because those opportunities won't always be so easy to get to.

I know that I need to catch a balance between work and class and leadership commitments and friendships and learn how to make quiet times in a seemingly endless day. I don't quite understand how to do that yet, but I know that I need to.

I know that good friends should be cherished and that taking advantage of people is wrong. I know that other people should be valued, not used, and that I can't be selfish and petty anymore. People are not toys and they can't be pushed aside like them. I know that I've been wrong in the past and I know that I never want to do it again.

I know that I need be healthy now and that you shave a few minutes off the baking time when you're using a convection oven and that those "vacant" forms in the apartment mail box actually need to be filled out in order to get mail. I know how to make my Mama's chili and how to do makeup to make my friends feel beautiful and how to understand Middle English literature. I know how to make people laugh and I know how to listen and I know how to articulate my muddy, unclear reasoning into a semblance of order...most of the time, at least. I know enough to realize how little I actually know, but I'm ready to learn. And I'm ready to understand. And I'm ready to change.

So please, friends, teach me your wisdom. Tell me what you know and what you think and what you're learning. I need to grow and I want your help.