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Hold on to your dreams, open your mind, and find your inner 20 year old, says this young woman as she steps out of her teens and into young adulthood.
At the cusp of 20, I feel like an adult. As I emerge on this sunrise looking ahead at the million miles of opportunity and adversity that lie ahead, I feel at peace with myself and ready to tackle challenges one by one, with the best of me.
I know that I will always have the child inside of me, the curiosity and the imagination. The kindness of heart and the clearness of conscience (though I’ll have to determinedly hold on to each through the tides of time). The deepest respect for love and all those that have touched my life. The courage to seek forgiveness and be merciful. The strength to pursue my dreams to make a better world, and hunger to learn on that journey. To remember how small I am, yet powerful. To truly listen to my well-wishers, and still make decisions that are my own, knowing that regardless, I will always belong there.
I know now that I can stand with calmness and courage like the women and men before me who inspire me.
I have come to terms with feelings of discomfort, sadness, loneliness and guilt – the unfavourable emotions. They will reappear just like joy will, but I have buckled in tightly and am going to hold on to experience every twist and turn of this lifelong roller coaster ride with my head up and eyes open.
As I learn about the past of my country, and of other countries that I have lived in and hear about, I am proud of where I come from, and yet wary of the borders that divide us. There is so much scope for a united mankind, and so much understanding yet to be shared between border,s that will benefit us all. As I work with improving education and economic systems with my start-up and research work, I want to combine the best of the east and west, of capitalism and socialism, of traditions and modernity.
These 20 years have taught me that as humans, we are all doing the best we can at every moment within our circumstances, but with this effort, we can each create change that we do not imagine possible. Big achievements are a collective endeavor, possible through a collaboration of ordinary individuals with incredible intentions.
If we keep a curious mind, the world will surprise us everyday. Adults have no better answers than children do, which is why we always have to question the old, and experiment with the infiniteness of what’s still possible. While the majority of us think that, by minding our own business, we do not contribute to the great evils of the world, our lack of action is precisely what allows the momentum of evil to continue on its course. I have learned that caring for beyond ourselves and our family is crucial because if we live in a society that does not keep each of its citizens well, the chains of oppression on those around us will strangle us in our own sleep, weighing us down and choking our humanity a little more each time.
So we’ve got to wake up, participate more consciously and be unafraid of making noise. Change is never easy, but it is always happening, so it is better to be out there, shaping that change rather than simply complain. At 20, I am ready to work harder than ever before to be at the forefront of the change – towards a world with less income inequality, more understanding and higher quality learning opportunities for all children.
It is never too late to decide that now is the time to make the changes we wish to see. As humans, we have this exciting potential within us, ready to go, with every passing year, be it at 20, 40, or 80.
So at 20, this is what I want to say to you: we all have a 20-year-old within us. If you’re older, you only have the added wisdom to guide your dreams. Hold on to those dreams. Believe in your mind to take you to wherever you want, and the infiniteness of youth will find you and give you wings. But you’ve got to reach for it, ask.
Above all, I’ve learned that a person’s true age lies not in our date of birth, but in our courage to live what we believe.
Author’s note: I wrote this earlier this month, on the day I turned 20.
Image source: pixabay