Twenty-three years old is by no means a monumental age. Especially when you compare more glamorous and impactful ages e.g., 13, 18, 21 and 30 (I'm assuming that last one). Still, when I look at my idols - the people I aim to model myself after (namely, Winston Churchill and Benjamin Franklin), I feel as if I'm still playing catch up.
But that is not to say I am not proud of my 23 years thusfar. Of note, my mother (a great one at that) had a very different life at this age, having already had three boys to raise seemingly all by her lonesome. I guess I'd say I benefited greatly from learning about and living with her experience as a backdrop to my own life.
Nonetheless, I consider myself a tweener. Somewhere between my parent's past journey to adulthood and my peer's present day situations and my predecessors' (those aforementioned idols) paths to greatness. And, more than anything, this year has taught me to be OK with being ahead of some and behind others. As long as there are fewer "others" than those in the "some" group.
As for that last part-and this may be controversial-I think my 23rd year (still underway) has demonstrated to me that there are three kinds of people in the world: purpose people, pleasure people and pissed-off people. In short, there are those who aspire to serve a purpose, either in their everyday world or in someone's life, there are those who seek enjoyment in everything they do regardless of reason or consequence and there are people who don't aspire for purpose or pleasure; they just sit still and bitch.
I don't think these types are mutually-exclusive, but I do believe 23 is one of those ages where you decide which type of person (purpose or pleasure) you want to be without the immediate fear of joining the pissed-off group.
Purpose-based people - of which I definitely consider myself - do things to achieve a goal or objective. Even fun things can have a purpose. For example, this year I went to a ton of concerts (of note, T.I. and Jamie Cullum were great) and did a bit of traveling (Chicago earlier this month), but I would still say those two fun activities have clear purposes for me. Concerts and traveling both give me the opportunity to take in new environments and gain more insight into what it is I'm interested in and making memories with loved ones.
Pleasure-based people may do the exact same things as someone like me, but they'll do it primarily for the sheer enjoyment (i.e. getting drunk at a party or gambling in Vegas). For these people, it can sometimes be an afterthought that those activities resulted in some lasting life lesson or sense of purpose.
Pissed-off people complain about not being able to go to concerts or travel or living in the right city or meeting people to date or hating their jobs.
At various points of 2006, I've been one of the three, never all three at once and never either of the latter two for longer than a month at a time. I've been mostly of the purposeful sort, but I've also been partially blissful and partially shitful (I made that last one up, but you get the picture). I've been on a mission at times, other times I've been selfish, impatient and generally immature in the pursuit of temporary pleasure and yet there have also been occasions of regrettable static and complaint.
Regardless, I've had one hell of a year. It started with one hell of a Rose Bowl win thanks to Mr. Vince Young, a movie preview (that turned out to be pretty fucking good if I may say so myself), a weekend in Austin, and the safe return of my best friend from Baghdad. I trailed into spring and summer with another couple of trips to Austin, countless trips to New York, concerts galore, quitting bosses and their replacements and continued into fall with car accidents, weddings, more concerts, promising TV shows, a trip to Boston and a new job.
Three things stand, in particular, stand out about 2006: a relationship I won't be able to fully appreciate and discuss for awhile, the completion of my first book Notes from the Class You Missed, and the lessons learned during my tenure at FEMA. Through all of these events, lessons and memories I've tried to get a better handle of how I can actually go about being the person I aspire to be 100 percent of the time. Not that I don't like fun or laziness on occasion, but even in the pursuit of enjoyment or malaise I'd like to have some sense of purpose.
I'm starting to think the purpose of 2006 was notsomuch finding out what my life's purpose is/will be (I've had a good idea of that since I was 11 or 12 years old), but moreso I've put the last 12 months of introspection, writing, working, and life lessons into figuring out how to share that purpose. I'll tell you more about that next week.