Coming of Age

Thursday, January 10, 2012

Last night at youth group we talk to the kids about coming of age rituals, and I began to reflect on the events in my life that really propelled me into adulthood. The first time I really remember thinking, “Whoa. Okay, this is real life now,” was during my 2 month stint in New Mexico as a teaching assistant. I finished high school a semester early and somehow decided that teaching 4th grade in a little Methodist mission school was the way to go.

Everything I do now seems to go back that time I spent in New Mexico. It was during those two months that I really learned to be alone. New Mexico was beautiful and different and far, far away from home. I was living on my own for the first time in a dorm provided for school volunteers, I didn’t have a car or public transportation system, and I felt so alone.

Growing up, being alone was something I took for granted. My introvertedness required that I periodically spent time by myself reflecting or reading or whatever we introverts do. That type of alone, however, was different because my mom was always in the next room and friends were just a few blocks away. The aloneness I felt in New Mexico was one of isolation and sadness. And at the same time, I loved the kids and the school, and I felt guilty for going back to the dorm at night and wishing I were home.

Needless to say, New Mexico was a hard two months. What I learned, however, was a type of fearlessness that only that experience could provide. Being alone (or, more accurately, isolated) doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m not sure I could have made the trips to Ghana, Prince Edward Island, or London without New Mexico. It was my coming of age. My realization that I can go and do pretty much anything because I’ll never really be alone.

With my 4th Graders in New Mexico.

With my 4th Graders in New Mexico.

Speaking of never being alone, today is Bestie Friend Toremeister’s birthday!! No one could have predicted that two curly-haired girls in the same Kindergarten class would become this inseparable. How about a picture of T on her 18th birthday? Buying a lottery ticket.

18th Birthday Torey!

18th Birthday Torey!

And a slightly more recent one of us at Stonehenge last March.

March 2012. Ruthless and Toremeister take on Stonehenge.

March 2012. Ruthless and Toremeister take on Stonehenge.

 

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