Well, today’s my birthday. Hooray! That’s right; 22 years ago today, I burst forth into the world – probably with a lot of crying and screaming. But here I am, 22 years later, and I’m still alive and well. It’s strange to think about that. But anyway, I decided I’d stay up until midnight hit – not because I’m particularly excited about my birthday, but just because I was already up fairly late, so I figured I might as well go a bit longer. And since I was up, I figured I’d take a moment to reflect and write down a few thoughts.
Thinking back over the past year, a lot of it was actually quite unmemorable. If I could use one word to describe my year of being 21, it would probably be, “settling.” A month and a half earlier, I had decided I was no longer a Christian. (I know, I know, I’ve written way too much about this – you’re probably sick of reading about it, and I know I’m sick of writing about it. But just bear with me.) That, of course, had the incredible effect of shaking the world right out from underneath me. I had a lot of things to discover, rediscover, and recover. So, while I did try to come back out of my shell a little bit, for the most part I stayed in there – first off, because I was comfortable, but also simply because suddenly the world was a dark and scary place again. So, like I said, much of it was unmemorable.
That’s not to say that it was not useful, however. In some ways, I ended up reinventing myself – not entirely, of course, but some of my values changed or grew stronger during this period. I decided that I wanted to be a more informed citizen, so I started reading a couple Canadian news sites online to try and keep up with current events. My interest in the environmental movement grew stronger during this time. And heck, a few months back I even entertained the notion of becoming vegetarian, something which I am still slowly implementing into my life (I realized I didn’t eat much meat to begin with, so it’s mostly been a matter of figuring out good vegetarian recipes that I actually have the skills to make). However, while these values grew, I still stayed safely tucked away as much as I could – at least for a while.
I can’t say I was entirely stuck in my shell. I did try my hand at drinking, which involved going to a few parties. Boy, was that a new experience. I mean, I’ve gone to parties before, but the inclusion of alcohol just makes everything different. Fun, but different. However, I can’t say that social activities like that were at all the norm. Most nights I spent alone in my room, either reading or watching movies. It was very much an enlightening process, and something I needed, but I realize now that I should have spent more time, you know, with other people. In the real world. Doing things.
But oh well. I don’t want to dwell too much on the past. The past is good for reflection, but not for pitching a tent. This fall, as a new 22-year-old, I have decided that enough is enough. It’s time to get back out there – first, because I realized that I have few friends (although the ones I do have are great) and need to meet some new people; second, because I’m just sick of watching movies most nights. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of that form of media, but there’s only so much I can take. So, this term I’ve made sure to sign myself up for a number of things. First off, I’ve been trying (largely unsuccessfully) to try to get a volunteer position as a research assistant. It’s something I’ve been trying to do for a few terms now, in order to get some valuable experience in the lab. It’s an important thing to do if I want to get into grad school, which at this point I think is my plan. I’ve been able to get a job as a coder, which isn’t exactly what I want, but it gives me a foot in the door. Basically, I’ve been given some data that I have to rate according to a number of dimensions. Then that gets analyzed in order to actually produce some meaningful results. I’m kind of interested to see what the study will conclude.
Anyway, second, I’ve also signed up to work at the UW Food Bank. It’s a resource for any students at the university, primarily for emergency purposes – you know, as poor, starving students, it’s easy enough to run out of food and money for periods of time. I have been donating canned goods to it weekly for a few months now, but this term I decided to go ahead and volunteer as well. It’s only an hour a week, and basically I just have to sit in the office and help visitors to get food – and let them know about the rules and limits and such. It’s a pretty easy job. I’ve had one shift so far, and knowing that I’m helping others really makes me feel like I’m (somewhat) pulling my weight around here. “Here” being society.
The third thing I’ve done is to sign up for the UW Sustainability Project. This is a club on campus that works to educate the university students (and others) about ways to become more environmentally sustainable, as well as work on projects to make the university as a whole more eco-friendly. It’s got a number of various projects going on, and I attended a meeting today explaining them all. I’m really excited about it, although at this point it’s going to depend on my schedule as to how much I can do. However, like I said, environmental issues have become of increasing importance to me, so I really want to jump in and actually get my feet wet in something in that area.
And, of course, last but not least, I still have schoolwork and group projects and tests and assignments and applying for co-op jobs and participating in psychology experiments and having a social life! It’s definitely more busy than I’ve been in a long time. But strangely enough, it feels really good. I keep glancing down at my agenda, which has furious scribbles throughout it, but it feels much better than I thought it would to be this busy. I am somewhat introverted, and need my “alone time,” but this in some ways actually helps to energize me. I’m finally back to volunteering in practical ways, getting to know some new people, and doing stuff that is actually going to be of use to others. That makes me feel great. And even though some days it seems like I have way too much to do, I have surprised myself by actually being okay with it. Strange! We’ll have to wait and see if that feeling continues throughout the term. I may end up deciding that I was an idiot for signing myself up for all this stuff. Oh well.
Anyway, now that I’ve looked back on the past, and looked forward to the future, I’ll take just a moment to sit here in the present and wish myself a happy birthday! I’m sure that this year will end up being full of surprises and plenty of awesome stuff, and so I’m excited to see what it has in store. But for now, I think I’m going to head to bed. I’ve got too much stuff to do in the morning…