Friday, February 17, 2012

When I Was Seventeen


Life presents to me people of a wide range of ages. Today I spent a wonderful amount of time with one of my favourite three-year-olds. One of my favourite people in my speech class is in her early 40s. Whereas, in the traditional college bubble I might be living life among the same-aged, I am grateful to always be with folks who are various stages of life.

And when I'm around these folks, I like to imagine what life was like for me at that stage, or what it will be like.

3. 7. 12. 15. 17. 18. 19. 21. 23. 24. 25. 27. 28. 30. 35. And then the point where they don't always tell you their age.

One person I cam across was 17.

I leaped back to 17 years of age (four years ago) and it took me back to my year as an exchange student

It was my year of train hopping.

My year of hanging out with people from countries all over the world - Iceland, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Korea, Ecuador, Canada, China, Mexico, Honduras, Japan, German, Italy, Switzerland.
It was my year where I found myself climbing fences in Venice ("Bandito! Bandito!"), sleeping in a wheat field in Switzerland, stuffing pillows up my shirt in Italy, and rocking out to classical music in Vienna.

It was the year where I learned to live with three families and formed a solid family with other students from around the world as grew in incredible ways and were stretched to our limits.

It was the year where they tried to teach me German, Swiss German, French, and Italian all at once when I only knew Spanish and English.

But most importantly, this was the year when, for the first time since elementary school, I truly felt like I had learned to be myself in totality and that person was accepted. Well, not in totality, I had spurts of "me-ness" in different communities, but it didn't surround my entire being.

I always felt a bit like an outsider. I didn't necessarily feel alone. I just never felt like I was "in" with any sort of crowd. Ok, there were times when all was swell, but I still think I was suppressing a lot of "me."

When I went to Switzerland, I felt beautifully liberated as I explored who I was and expressed that for the world to see.

I grew more as a seventeen year old than I think I ever had grown. It was a powerful turning point in my life. I can't say it was or will be the best year of my life (no way! there are still incredible adventures to come!) but I can certainly say that it was the finest year as a seventeen year old I could imagine for myself.

I appreciate it for what it was.
I love everything that came out of it.

And then, the last three months of being seventeen. Well, that's when I was introduced to the world of of panic attacks. Guess there's a season for everything.

Ever since then, my number one guaranteed trigger for crying is people being united. I'll do a post on that later.

Oh seventeen....


1 comment:

  1. Da hast du ein echt genialen Text über dein Austauschjahr geschrieben! -Du sprichst zwar von dir aber zugleich sprichst du aus meinem Herzen!!! Auch mir kam es vor,dass ich mich völlig neu kennenlernte als ich in Australien war.

    Hab dich leider nur eins, zweimal gesehen in der Schweiz...aber umso mehr freue ich mich, dass wir uns überhaupt getroffen haben!

    ReplyDelete

Your words make me grin.

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