Reflections on age 21

Trevor Drew

I woke up still wearing my jeans, one shoe and my jacket. As I raised my head to survey my room, my brain thrashed around my skull like someone shaking a can full of nickels between my ears.

Unable to escape, I laid there quietly for some time trying to pinpoint exactly what actions brought me to this point and where to go from here once my strength returned. That day was my most recent birthday; I had just turned 21.

When I was a kid, I loved the Lion King. The singing, the animals, I ate it up. But my favorite part, without question, was the “Hakuna Matata” song. Simba learns only a fool trips on what’s past him and you get to see the little cub grow up into a big, tough, Mufasa lookin’ lion.

And that’s what I thought growing up would be like. I always imagined one day I’d fall asleep a kid and wake up a bona fide adult, beard and all.

That certainly didn’t happen the night I turned 21. Legally, I’ve been an adult for a few years but when I look down at my shopping cart to see the only groceries I’ve picked out so far are corn dogs, peanut butter and Gatorade, I can’t help but feel like a kid.

Some days I fumble with the thought that I’m an adult. I do grown-up things all the time like going to the bank, checking my tire pressure and filling out various applications but it all seems so surreal.

Upon reflecting on it, I’m not sure if I was right to assume the transitions between stages in life are so obvious and apparent. I much prefer the idea of life as a gradient, one long, subtle but dynamic shifting through life.

Although the tree never changes his roots, his branches ascend and disperse in all different directions. And while one aspect of his life may never change he certainly isn’t the lowly acorn sitting on the forest floor like the fool he once was.

We go through so much of our lives with plans and expectations for ourselves that we get lost in how we think we should be acting and forget about our true spots.

Growing up, I used to think everything I didn’t understand would become clear with age. But as I traverse life I find with age the world becomes  much more clouded and twisted, to the point where I yearn for the simplicity of youth.

Sometimes I feel like actual adults are just kids in big important suits wondering how in the world did they get here. I don’t think anyone really grows up the way they expected. I thought I’d be much taller by now, I thought I’d be a rockstar and I never thought I’d have to worry about much in life.

As the sun broke through the shuttered windows of my bedroom and cut through the dark, it dawned on me that I was 21. The day I had been awaiting for half my life was finally here and the only real difference was I felt like I had to puke.

Instead of forcing myself to change I’ll take life as it comes to me. In the words of Dr. Seuss: “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”