Me with my graduation cake, which read, “She was adopted.” Well, here’s to the day I was born to parents who passed on their good genes and made it impossible for me to lie about being related to them.

Here’s your daily dose of “duh“: It’s amazing how much can change in a year. Hence, a 21-experiences-in-my-21st-year list to remind myself of just how amazing this year was. [Also, it’s my birthday]

You might think that this is just a list to recap everything I’ve already written about on this blog. Maybe that’s true, but to me it’s a list of adventures and struggles, friendships and heartaches, and the rediscovery of so, so much joy I thought I had lost forever.

If you had handed me this list on July 29, 2011, I would have called it a list of pipe dreams. I would have called it silly and unlikely and impossible. Now I call it the best year of my life.

1. I turned 21. I broke my nose. (Okay, hold on, it does get better than this)
2. I drank a lot of coffee. Then I quit working at Starbucks and that habit got much more expensive.
3. I tried to call Rose and Terry at the Washington Journalism Center and tell them I didn’t want to come to D.C. anymore. They said no.
4. I went to D.C.
5. I honestly thought I was going to be sent home because I couldn’t get an internship. I landed an internship at The Washington Post.
6. I ran the entire length of the National Mall, from the Capitol to the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial and back.
7. I found a church that I love. I rediscovered the God I love — the one who loved me first.
8. I got published in the Sunday print edition of the Post; my journalism career peaked.
9. I applied for spring semester at American Studies Program, got accepted, and had to explain to Terry and Rose how I had fallen in love with D.C. and didn’t want to leave. They were right after all.
10. I ate too many 12-egg omelets at Beth’s. It’s a test. It doesn’t work.
11. I ran the Tidal Basin. I ran the Tidal Basin and the National Mall together. I ran to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms before the sun came up.
12. I found out that I’m actually very passionate about politics — done the right way. This includes (but is not limited to) taking over the D6 with classmates, interviewing congressional staffers, writing policy memos (not annotated bibliographies), and generally dressing professionally then walking long distances in the rain.
13. I went camping in West Virginia. I also walked a very long distance in the rain on this day, too.
14. I got hired by Christianity Today.
15. I slept in a fort made of blankets and sheets with my best friends/roommates.
16. I took a MegaBus and visited the South — Tennessee and North Carolina. Mission accomplished, ya’ll.
17. I started and finished a 50-page honors project on WikiLeaks. I learned a lot about WikiLeaks, including the fact that I’m not as excited about it as I thought I was.
18. I graduated college. [Wait. Stop. Let’s say that again: I. graduated. college.]
19. I went to Colorado, hiked a 14,000 foot mountain, and showed that altitude who’s boss.
20. I started my last class at SPU…after I graduated (technically).
21. I wanted to write an honest list of 21 great things about my 21st year, and I got to the 21st thing before I realized that no honest account of my year would be complete without saying this: I overcame; I recovered; I flourished. It’s hard — even now — to be honest and admit that, one year ago, I was in a place where I needed to recover from a lot of things. In admitting that to myself along the way, I was able to grow into more of the young woman I’ve always been becoming.

And now 22, because July 29, 2012, is the beginning of a new list; I have another year of adventure(s) ahead of me.

22. I am still writing — writing from home (until Friday) in Black Diamond, writing my new life in Carol Stream, writing until I get back to D.C.


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