The first time I turned 21, I felt like I was miscast in a coming-of-age film about a guy turning 21. With a late September birthday, my firsts were always linked to being last. All my friends—all of them—are older than me, so I sat on the sidelines, or in the passenger seat, while each of them drove, tried chewing tobacco, voted, and drank. So when I finally turned 21, my squad was already over it, the shine had worn off, and I was just a little brother finally allowed, legally, to tag along.
I think that’s why turning 21 again is so meaningful. Again, there will be little pomp and circumstance, and, just like last time, few people will even care that it’s happening, but I’m proud to be 21 again.
Because I’ve been in education for exactly half my life.
21 separate plays with completely different story arcs, characters, and denouements.
21 years of “My bad” and “I’m glad I was your teacher” and “Welcome Back!”
21 first days and last days.
21 chances to take chances.
21 opportunities to provide opportunities.
Of course, catching up to myself just means that while the starting line (21) will always be the same, I’ll move farther away from that line each year I remain doing what I love, until the part of my life that isn’t in education is dwarfed by the part that is.
And I’ll drink to that.
How old are you turning this year?