My 20s… the defining time. The era in which I am meant to move on from school and am expected to have a career solidified. I will live on my own for the first time, meet a significant other. Some people even chose to have children. This is the time I am supposed to live life to its absolute fullest.
With all of this pressure, I tend to ask myself, “What if I am doing it wrong? What if at this monumental point I am missing a crucial step… am I not attending the right events, taking the right classes, meeting the right people? What if I am failing my 20s?”
But then, I think… I think back to Camp War Eagle three years ago when I signed up to spend the summer of 2021 in Italy. I can retreat to the anxiousness I felt spending the entire pandemic waiting to hear if this program was cancelled, if everyone had called it quits. I look back on getting off the bus that first day, and all of the wonder, excitement, and nervousness I felt, the homesickness late at night, the deep desire for a single Chick-fil-a nugget. I can vividly remember meeting all of my 10 new classmates and being so frightened they would not like me (or even worse they would not like taking pictures). One of my favorite times to reflect on is trying to sort out how I was going to eat turkey melts for the next 74 days, considering it was my one and only cooking talent.
Today, I have 10 new friends. I have travelled to 22 different cities over the course of a little over a month, toured Rome, slept in a cave, boiled noodles for the first time, made some delicious potatoes, drank wines at vineyards, almost threw up from sea sickness on the Amalfi Coast, learned a little Italian, and have gained pounds worth of gelato. I have grown in ways that would’ve been absolutely infeasible if I let fear hinder me from committing to this program and studying in this magnificent country during an uncertain time. In my 20s, I have decided to put myself out there and reach beyond anything close to my comfort zone. I have decided to immerse myself in a culture so beautifully different then my own. As I begin my 20s, I may currently lack a solid career, a husband — let alone a child — but I sure have 42 (and soon, 74) days I can promise, without a doubt, that I lived to their fullest.
So here I am, about half way through. Summer 2021. Italy. The time of my life.
Sending all my love from Italy,