Yes, even on this 21st birthday, with many more (liquid) things on my mind than life goals, I found myself returning again and again to the idea that over two decades of my life have already flown by, and I'm really just getting started.
My friends like to tease me about my need to overthink everything, saying that it's ridiculous to worry because, "In the end, you're Kelsey Dallas, and everything will be okay."
Everything will be okay.
This mantra's gotten quite the workout this year, guiding me through the deaths of two grandparents, tough situations amongst family and friends and continuous fears about what my rapidly approaching "adult life" has in store for me.
And maybe, just maybe, I'm finally starting to be convinced of its truth.
When I was 17 years old, I began the difficult task of choosing a college. Luckily for me, the University of Iowa plopped itself in my lap with a hefty scholarship offer, and the answer was too obvious to ignore.
And even that decision came with some heart-wrenching side effects, as I spent several of those 3-hour drives from Lincoln to Iowa City my freshman year drowning in homesickness.
But never once did I stop believing that I had done the right thing for me. Because somewhere in the mess that I like to call a "lovable personality," lies what I consider my strongest asset: vision.
I see myself doing something, becoming someone, succeeding somewhere, and I make it happen. I may sob with fear the night before I start each new adventure, but I never let myself think that I've done something wrong by choosing to take on a challenge.
That was true during the horrifying moment that my parents left me by the curb at my freshman dorm and still true as I lie here with tears in my eyes preparing to leave for my wild summer job.
Voicing how panicked I am about my upcoming summer, several people have reached out to me to let me know how positive they are that this job is right for me. That there's something amazing in the potential this summer holds to change my life.
And I have to agree with them. Staring down all of my fears, I am confident that there's many beautiful things on the horizon, no matter how uncertain it all seems right now.
Uncertainty: the evil twin sister of my beloved vision.
I make myself sick thinking of all that can go wrong between Point A and Point B.
But somehow, on this third day of my 21st year of life, I've discovered a little voice in my heart that's telling me that everything really is going to be okay.
...Though I'm not sure how I can trust the voice that's probably also responsible for my ridiculous (and unrelenting) belief in true romance.
Nevertheless, today I'm making a commitment to keep following that vision.
We can call it my birthday present to myself. In what will become the most pivotal year of my young life, I promise to keep being that person who doesn't settle for what's safe, and chases after the dreams that keep me awake at night.
Like everyone, all I really want is to be happy. And I think I've finally realized that what makes me happy is never holding still while all the best parts of life come to find me. I want to throw myself at them screaming "Pick me!"
And so hear I sit. Still teary-eyed and (thankfully) still at the very beginning of my 21st year.
I've already written so much about who I want to become this next year. Someone who has fun without having a list of consequences cycling threw her mind, someone who can fall in love with reckless abandon just because it feels so much better than trying to control every little detail.
But I guess all I really want to be is true to myself. True to the Kelsey who has gotten me this far. True to that little voice that's tugging me away from my comfort zone into lands unknown.
I don't want to...and I can't...let myself stand still.
Peace, love and growing pains,
"And I'm not the girl that I intend to be. But I dare you darlin' just you wait and see. But this time not for you, but just for me."