Nineteen Years and Counting

Today marks my nineteenth birthday (well, technically around 11:30pm is when I officially turn nineteen). Nonetheless, it now means that in one year I’ll have spent two decades on this planet and lived through two centuries. Looking back, a lot has happened in the world in the nineteen years that I’ve lived. A lot of things have changed, evolving to keep up with the times. Other things haven’t; they’ve remained practically untouched. Turning nineteen means I’ve also now spent one full year of legally being an adult. Realizing that, I began to wonder if I made the most of my first year legally being an adult. That’s when the even bigger question hit me, “How have I spent the last nineteen years of my life?”

Looking back those nineteen years, I have a lot of regrets. My biggest regret is that I’ve never really done anything that benefited the world, not just me. Sure, I’ve donated to various causes (the earthquake in Japan especially), been a Cub and Boy Scout (although I quit a number of years back), and run BOINC. However, I feel as if all of those are, well, to be blunt, the lazy ways to get involved. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that’s made a genuine difference. I’m not looking for fame and fortune. To be honest, I don’t want it. I’d be happy knowing I’ve made a difference without being credited for it. I’ve taken a hell of a lot of things for granted. I’ve been selfish. Hell, I’ve been a royal asshole in the past. I won’t deny that nor try to hide it. That said, I feel as if I haven’t lived for nineteen years. I feel as if I’ve wasted nineteen years of my life.

I think out of all the years I’ve spent on this planet, the past year of my life was the first year I really started to try to get involved with things. Being truly responsible for myself for the first time has really taught me a lot, or at least I’d like to think so. I did a number of things for the first time that I never would’ve done before. I’ve gone places on my own, just wandered around and explored. I’ve donated more of my time towards getting involved in the community than I’ve ever done before. Above all, I actually attempted to make friends for the first time in almost ten years.

Sure, I’ve “met” plenty of people online over the past couple of years, joining the ZREO Team in 2007 greatly contributed to that and continues to do so today. However, no matter how hard we try, I don’t believe the internet will ever be able to replace really meeting up with someone or a group of people. We’ve come close for sure with AV chat, but it still isn’t the same, even if you decide to carry a camera around with you everywhere. I like to think that one of my greatest accomplishments of last year was that at Drexel, I didn’t spend all day in front of a computer, nor in my dorm room. For the first time in my life, I actually wanted to be outside. I despised sitting in my dorm all day. Boy, did that feel good. Being able to spend all day sitting on your ass in the air conditioning and in front of a computer may sound good on paper, but after a while, it gets to be pretty damn boring, even with everything you can now do on the internet. Last year, I didn’t just ditch sitting in front of the computer desk, I ditched sitting in front of the computer desk living out my life in single player story mode. I actually asked people I made friends with if they wanted to go somewhere together. I actually attempted to put together a group gathering for the first time (to the Pokémon Black and White Mall Tour for those interested). When term projects came around, I actually liked working in a group. Until last year, that was something I’d never do willingly. While I certainly didn’t spend nearly as much time as the other officers, I spent a lot of my free time either coordinating donations for TechServ or helping out with them. I worked to bring what I love to people who have never had it before and to non-profits who, in turn, brought it to others.

This year I’d like to call the first year of real life for me. In just a few short weeks, I’ll begin working a day job for the first time as a Data SecurityAnalyst at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Sure, I’ve “worked” in the past at Zelda Reorchestrated and Gemakei, but both of those positions are volunteer. They’re positions I’ve had for about four years now because they’re positions I love. They don’t pay. They don’t have set hours. Their job description you could likely write in just one sentence. But, they’re fun. They’ve given me experiences and opportunities I’ve never had before. Nonetheless, this co-op at Bristol-Myers will be my first real work experience. However, I personally don’t care to call it a “work experience”, I’d much rather call it a “learning experience”. For the first time, I’ll really be experiencing first hand if Information Technology is really going to be the field I want to get in to. For the first time, I’ll be experiencing of what I’ve spent the past ten years or so of my life is what I want to continue doing. For the first time, I’ll be living in the real world.

So, happy birthday to me I guess. Here’s hoping this next year is a learning experience. Here’s hoping it’s an adventure. Here’s hoping I actually do something with my life.