An Open and Honest Letter to My 20s

 Photo Credit Mark Ovaska 2009

Photo Credit Mark Ovaska 2009

It's an hour before the clocks and calendars tell me my 20s are gone.

These are some thoughts and reflections I'd like to share. 

 

I kissed too many and loved too few. I held on to wrong one too long and let the right one go too soon. I traveled; a lot. I went to 48 states and six countries. This country is full of amazing people with incredible stories. GO meet them, sit with strangers, ask them about their life, it will change yours.

I did not get married, I did not have children. Instead I chased the dream of being a writer and performer… I became an artist. My children are a book and two records, my love is storytelling. I’ve wrestled back and forth as to whether it was the right choice and how satisfying it truly is. I come to the belief that for me, there was no other way. I am content.

I’ve put in almost half of my 10,000 hours towards being a craftsman of word and melody. There is a difference between fame and success. In my youth I cared deeply about fame. But fame often burns bright for a short season and then fades quickly. Success is being truly great at something and getting to do it over and over and still loving it when the glory fades.

I’ve lived in my car in NY, on floors and couches in California and a fancy house in the up and coming Oak Hill neighborhood of Nashville and now I live in a garage. Things come and go. And it’s okay. I’m no less of a person in the hard times than I am in the prosperous ones. It took me a long time to believe that. Some days I still have to talk myself into knowing   

My faith has taken it’s detours, it’s had it’s own journey through fundamentalism, charismatic, confusion, apathy and re-awakening.

I’ve struggled with depression and social anxiety, sometimes to a nearly crippling extent I’ve fought with the help of counselors and family and friends to keep my head above water and lately I’ve even been swimming upstream a bit. There are still bad days, days where it’s almost impossible to face the world and it’s weight but at least for now those are farther apart than they’ve been.

I’ve been cheated on, I’ve caused others to cheat, both are terrible and painful. I’ve learned we are shaped but not defined by our past. I spent most of my twenties being afraid of going after the ones I actually cared about. It’s not a good idea. I trained myself to be more satisfied with the idea of someone and the hope of what could be than letting reality have it’s say and taking a risk. I do not recommend this approach.

I drank, I smoked, I partied, I had hangovers. I learned to take the IBUprofen before bed and then again when you wake up. I drove when shouldn’t have, I came real close to getting busted. I got lucky. I knocked that *ish off.  It turns out, I am not invincible. I never was.

I learned that people are not a commodity, they are human beings, with souls that are a part of the whole that is mankind. It doesn’t matter if our beliefs, habits, preferences, gender, socioeconomic status or ethnicity are different. We are, at our core the same. LIfe forms that simply want to know and be known and want to love and be loved.

I’ve seen plenty of sickness and death. Old people, young people. Friends, relatives, acquaintances. We only get one shot at this and it’ll probably be over before I’m ready.

I climbed no corporate ladder, I had no health insurance or 401k, I have a lot of student loan debt that sometimes keeps me up at night. Debt for a degree that has not really benefitted me in the way one would hope. But I have tried lots and lots of different jobs and I am better because of it. I fed bears, rode horses, taught snowboarding, taught PE, cooked, cleaned, watched kids, made coffee, served beer, chopped down trees and about 50 other things.

I’ve met celebrities and hung out with childhood heros some were awesome others were disappointing. Turns out heros are people too.

I only drove cars that were paid for,  I spent way too much money on coffee and eating out. I refuse to stop dreaming. I am insecure, I am afraid of thinning hair and slowing metabolism, I am self conscious about less than perfect teeth and inconvenient body hair. I started eating like one those granola nut jobs I used to make fun of. I exercise and after a while I even started liking it. I gained 50 pounds then I lost 30 of it and turned 10 into muscle. Don’t wait to treat your body well.

I am grateful for my twenties they were great. I will miss them. But I look forward to the next ten years with wide eyed anticipation for what gets built on the messy but beautiful foundation that was laid before.

 

Thank you to all those who were a part of helping me become who I am so far.