I have been twenty for exactly one week. It's really such a crap birthday. I mean, the only thing that makes it at all distinguishable is that I am no longer considered a teenager. Though I have never really felt like a teenager, and I've always looked older than I am - it's just all finally catching up with me. BUT I still can't drink in public or go to certain venues/events. Lame.
In reflection upon my nineteenth year, I have decided it was complete shit. Though, I have grown a lot in the past year, found out a lot about myself and all that other David Copperfield kind of crap. Richmond has had a lot to do with it to. I no longer hate this city, but I am much happier in DC as those who have spent time with me in both can attest.
I am a generally outgoing person, and meeting people that are worthwhile is so much easier in DC. I can go out on any given night there and meet someone new, and they'll be interesting, pursuing something they are passionate about and maintain a list of hobbies that keep them busy at nights and on weekends. Not to mention, the boys. The boys know how to treat a girl. Chivalry still exists there, and it's not passe, it's not old fashioned, it's traditional and not at all sexist.
When I go out in Richmond, it's usually to a party, and everyone there is there with their three best friends and they only interact among each other, but call it being social. They are the most unsociable people in the most social situations. Though, in their defense, most of them grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs or the Virginia Beach areas and think it's "weird" to randomly start talking to the first person you see at a party. This works in DC, anywhere in DC. But imagine (humor me) that you are twenty again and that you are the only one that isn't excessively awkward, but because you're not, it seems as though you are. And then later when you mention it to someone they call you the awkward one. Richmond is awkward.
In the last year I have learned to be more tactful. This may surprise you, and in the company of those that I feel comfortable being myself completely I still say things without filtering them, but around those that I meet for the first time and in certain people equations and in certain public forums, I have learned to keep certain opinions and thoughts to myself. Though, for those that appreciate my honesty, they may notice my being more polite than usual and ask what I'm really thinking. Eleana does this a lot. She always acts shocked when I give her compliment and insists that surely there is something to criticize. There usually is, but I've been making a conscious effort to not be so critical. Richmond doesn't really allow or appreciate criticism. It has everything to do with how "open minded" everyone is. And that whole chivalry thing that still exists elsewhere, that would never fly here. Ever. I cannot count how many conversations I have had with people about dating that end with us wholeheartedly disagreeing about what is and isn't appropriate on a bonafide first date.
Being raised Mormon, I have been indoctrinated all my life about women's and men's roles in society. And while i disagree with most of what I was taught, I do believe that whoever asks someone on a date should pay for it, and I like it when a man walks on the street side of the sidewalk, and I like having doors opened for me. And flowers. (If there is anyone reading this that is unaware of how much I love flowers please read this and know that nothing in the world makes me happier than yellow roses.) Boys in Richmond are not straight. They are all slightly gay. All of them have had some sort of homosexual experience. And that doesn't bother me in the least, what bothers me is when I get flack for not being into girls at all. Somehow my lack of "experimenting" makes me less of a person. It's their indecision that irritates me. Many of my male friends have all been "celibate" this week and polyamorous the next. I have kissed one girl, and that was a friend who drunkenly, and quite literally, threw herself at me. And it was not something I enjoyed. I like boys.
And even the concept of marriage, I don't know that it's natural or that I even want to get married, though I do know I want to eventually have children, and marriage usually goes along with that. But I have had arguments with people who refuse to acknowledge that it works for some people and that it's not the most absurd concept they've ever heard of or been exposed to. Again, because I was raised in a Mormon household, I feel that I am more receptive to both points of view. It the whole being "open" to countercultual norms while being staunchly against things that are considered mainstream. Maybe it's just because I'm a journalism major, but I believe in trying to maintain objectivity in all things. While I certainly agree more with Keith Olberman than Glen Beck, I'll watch both. I even listen to AFR sometimes...but mostly for the nuts that call in to share a scripture they think qualifies the Iraq war or Obama being from Kenya.
Nineteen made me appreciate the middle, being the youngest and feeling old, but being naive. It gave me a lot of time alone to ponder and to realize that being self-aware is more important than most things. And while I'm naive about most things, I learned a lot of lessons this year, and I wasn't happy about most of them at the time. But, I wouldn't change it. Not in the least.
So, here's to Year 20. I think it's going to be better and bigger and more important than the last.