This article first published by The Odyssey on August 15, 2016. There were some things I said in the original which went a bit too far, so this is my new edit:
I turned 20 this year. As much as I think a “quarter-life crisis” is ridiculous, I have to admit it felt a little weird.
Not only are my teenage years behind me, but being 20 has a special significance. I didn’t have many friends my own age when I was a kid — partly because I lived in Germany most of that time, and more because I was very bookish and didn’t try to meet other kids. So, most of my childhood friends were young U.S. airmen that my missionary parents ministered to. These men would visit our house for Bible studies or special events, and for several hours, I would have a pack of big brothers to mess with. It’s strange to think I’m now the same age most of those men were back then. I’ve turned into the friendly, seemingly giant guy who smiles down at six-year-olds, answers funny questions about how old I am, and playfully lifts them over my head.
Of course, little kids never believe you were once as young as they are.
Joking aside, I do sometimes wonder if I should be moving faster. There are many things I can now do as a young adult and already some things I can’t get away with anymore. In another few years, that process will happen all over again. Especially living in America — where the combined forces of culture constantly tell us that being young is everything — it’s easy to feel like my life is draining down the tubes and I must keep moving or miss out.
Strangely, none of the older people I admire seem to have this problem. When I look at my grandparents and the elderly people who make me think, “That’s how I want to be at that age,” I notice lots of joy and contentment. They don’t seem obsessed with things they can’t do anymore. They don’t appear to be worried about how much longer they can continue what they’re doing now. They simply accept what age they are, live it the best they can, and accomplish what they can right now. Each new era is a new time, with some opportunities gone and some new opportunities to explore.
As I face the next 10 years of my life and beyond, I hope I can have that attitude. With a little luck, I just might be able to live life to the fullest.