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My 20th Orbit Around the Sun

Twenty years old is seen as such a pointless age.

But at 20 years old, I was old enough to love. At 20 years old, I was allowed to live in a major city on my own and dream about the endless possibilities before me. I could live alone in my own apartment. I was able to accomplish things that I never thought possible, and discover my passions and values.

But at 20 years old, I had my heart broken, stomped on, undervalued and unwanted. I was allowed to be sad. Like really sad. Like detrimentally sad. I was allowed to sit at the funeral of a close friend in a small town, just a few hours from our school. I was allowed to be backstabbed and humiliated by the people I considered friends, and had my work ethic and name trashed. I was allowed to watch my family change dramatically and see those I love the most grow old before me, and in the case of my uncle, die unexpectedly overnight.

In many ways, my 20th year was the apocalypse. A crash collision of death and betrayal, where real friendships seemed to dwindle and the army of fake people not only grew, but weaponized. Life became more precious, and my mind seemed to eat at me from the inside.

That’s the funny thing about being 20 in 2019. The world still sees you as a child because you can’t legally go for a drink. You’re forced into the underage line at the bar. You’re not seen as smart or wise enough because you don’t have a Ph.D and you’ve only lived on this planet for two decades. Your opinions are unwelcome at the table because they are “not yet developed.” Your parents send you off to a small college town where everyone knows each other, and it feels like every relationship has an expiration date.

But a 20-year-old  can see more death and despair, and deal with more mental and physical hardships than most imagine.

That was 20 years old — a cold apocalyptic winter followed by a hot cruel summer.

But at 20 years old, I learned my worth and stopped taking each day of my life for granted. I stopped caring about what others said and thought of me. I came out, which was a big deal for me. I learned what I was passionate about and what I want to do with my life. I learned more about the world and dedicated myself to making it a better place.

I learned that everyone comes into your life for a reason, and although they can leave you with pain and anguish, the most important thing is that you take a lesson away from each relationship. I learned that you need to hold on to those who have your best interest in mind — those people who cut out time in their day to call you or text you or send you funny tweets to make you laugh.

I learned that happiness and fulfilment come from within, and you must love the person you see in the mirror (or the selfie) above all else.

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll miss my 20th year. I guess it all depends on what my 21st year brings. But I learned a lot during this orbit around the sun, and it’s enough to keep me orbiting around again.

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