It’s 2AM. I’m 22 years and 364 days old and I am writing an essay simply about myself. Because it’s my birthday (or almost my birthday), I reasoned that’s it’s okay to write 642 words about myself without coming across as self-absorbed or conceited. Although, if you know me, you know that I’m delightfully so.
Looking back, I did not obtain or create or build nearly as much as I had hoped in the past year. My life does not compare to the lives of the fashion or lifestyle influencers I follow on Instagram. I still don’t have the freedom of working for myself that I long for. And yet, the past year has been far from unproductive. I moved. I took a lot of risks. Those are all things that I’ve done before, but there was something different about this year. Something dramatically shifted inside me, and I have realized that it’s the fact that I have stopped living in fear.
I no longer cringe at the idea of not measuring up to my peers in career, education, or any other kind of status. Most people gawk when they learn about my lifestyle. Granted, most twenty-somethings aren’t working overnight in social media, studying to become an English professor, and considering the possibility of opening a family business on top of a grain elevator. I revel in the idiosyncrasies of my own life. I no longer cringe at the thought of building a life out of scratch because I’ve done it before. I laugh delightedly at the thought of the 50+ years I have left to live pursuing my dreams. I’ve embraced my future and taken ownership of my life, and it has brought such freedom.
Freedom. What a sweet and wonderful word! I used to think that my lifestyle was unhealthy due to my constantly changing plans and living arrangements. As long as I’m not making foolish choices, I no longer think my love of newness and adventure as negative or silly. I’ve accepted that I was just made this way. I can stand anything except standing still, and so I keep on going. Although I am not exactly where I want to be just yet, I make promises to myself about the places that I’ll go.
Behind this outlook is not selfishness or irresponsibility; in fact, I would argue that it’s the opposite. I make all of these decisions wisely and with my integrity intact and my head held high. I am not defending it; I am simply arguing in favor of this lifestyle. If you don’t like where you are, then there is a 99% chance you can do something about it. Take ownership of your own time and potential. Nobody says that you have to work the conventional 9-5 and settle for one week at the beach every year.
This sense of joyful freedom does not happen overnight. It is a foundation that I (and my parents) have been building meticulously for twenty-three years. I built my foundation myself, so I know what I am made of and I know where my identity lies. By God’s grace, this discernment allowed me to circumvent a lot of common pitfalls that many young people fall into. To be able to cut loose the pressures of career, social media, the opinions of others, and run full-speed towards your God-given potential is the most delightful thing in the world.
I have wonderful friends who think that my religion is just a stifling list of do’s and don’ts. But when I introduce them to my close-knit family that is so chock full of life and laughter, they marvel at the light and freedom that we carry. I did not get to where I am on my own, but I have come so far and I am so excited about the places that I’ll go.