I realised today that I’m lucky enough to have now known some precious souls for 21 years of my life. With my somewhat itinerant childhood, this is more of a feat than it would be to some of you. It’s a particularly huge feat for me considering I’ve been terrible at nurturing friendships for over 30 years of my life.
21 years, in western culture, marks a transition from baby to adult and I have to admit these people have watched me do pretty much that on a metaphorical level since the age of 17. They’ve seen me in my quivering infancy of an independent life, somewhat terrified of living, and through the terrible teens equivalent (read: being ungrateful, misguided and wedded to my emotions). And now, 21 years later, the number that seems to signify adulthood, I finally feel like I might be on the first rung to an independent, fulfilling and meaningful life.
Even though I’m closer to 40 than any other milestone, I certainly feel a coming of age rather than a gentle glide into maturation. Finding my passion, starting to build a business off it and reconfiguring my self-imposed limitations to let me fly, they all feel very much like I imagined the start of adulthood. I understand I know little but I still believe I can help a lot. I have new energy to create and stir things up, to live in more uncertainty and take (calculated) risks rather than trying to settle it all down. And I’m back to that fresh-faced optimism that comes from a strong belief in your own purpose.
And yet, even though I can feel all this change, I would find it hard to tell you how I’ve changed. It’s hard to remember who I was, what my foibles were. I just remember how it used to feel and how much better they made life. 21 years on from now, I won’t remember the ins and outs of this either, but I’ll remember how this stage felt and how they made me feel better yet again.
Ultimately we remember times and places, scenes and faces by feeling. How something or someone makes you feel is what makes a memory a memory that fades less. So, if you have smiled at any of this and a particular person has come to mind, tell them thank you for making you feel better for all these years. Thank them for the happy memories you are banking. Then please, make sure you are creating even happier memories for those around you too.