On Being a New Adult: Jennifer from Justice Jennifer

I can’t really write advice to my younger twenty-something year old self as so many others have done this month (and quite beautifully I must add), because I am only just barely scraping the surface of my twenties. In August I turned twenty-two years old. It was not a terribly momentous occasion. It was nothing like turning twenty-one, which went down in the books as one of those momentous birthdays where I crossed the threshold into legal drinking territory. Although, looking back on it, even turning twenty-one was less momentous than expected. I didn’t get crazy as so many new adults do because I had to work the following day and I didn’t want to have to deal with a hangover. Oh, responsibility, how did you find my so early?

Despite my twenty-two years of life experience, I still feel like a little girl. I always thought twenty was a magic number. I thought I would go to college and leave with all the knowledge and confidence I would need to take on the world and make my dreams come true. I thought that my college courses would provide me with the magic formula for success and happiness in the real world. What actually happened is that college challenged me to open my mind to new possibilities and I came out with more questions than answers. And in the safety of my college classrooms, I could ask all of those deep questions about life, love, and all of those other mysteriously heavy topics. I fell in love with college and when my senior year came around, I realized I didn’t want to leave. I still don’t want to leave. Maybe that is why I enrolled directly in a graduate program to become a high school teacher.

I like to think that I am like the young women in many of my favorite books, plays, and TV shows. I’m currently getting ready to teach my seniors, Hamlet. I find myself resonating more and more with young Ophelia. Polonius chastises her for being a “green girl” early on in the play. He is frustrated that she is not guarding her “chaste treasure” from Hamlet who’s intentions are surely not pure. Just like Ophelia, I follow my heart. I may not be as experienced or worldly as I had hoped I would be at this age. I did not study abroad or go on a great post-college tour around the world. I have allowed myself to stay safely nestled in my bubble–I didn’t even really go away to college. I chose a college near where I grew up. Some might chastise me for this (sometimes I  even chastise myself a bit for it). I do have a desire to travel. I know that I want to see the world. But the timing just hasn’t been right yet.

Right now, I am loving my bubble. I am not where I thought I would be but getting to this point in my life has still been a journey. Not every dream that pops into my head can become a reality. I have learned to let some things go. My brief love affair with the law ended and opened a door into the world of education. I am currently rediscovering the wonders of a high school classroom from a totally different perspective. I love that high school classrooms can be the safest and most dangerous places in the world. Magic happens in there though. When students who were formerly slipping through the cracks start to open their minds to what you are teaching and interact with the material that you believe in…there is nothing else like it. I’m lucky to have ended up in such a challenging and rewarding environment.

I am continuing to learn so much in my twenties. Accepting the fact that I don’t know everything has been incredibly liberating for me. Knowing this one simple fact has allowed me to learn so much more. I still have fears and insecurities. I am not entirely sure if those will ever really disappear. I might learn how to cover them up a bit better though. I’m probably still as socially awkward as I was in high school, but I have learned how to take pride in who I am. For now, I am forging my path in the best way that I know how. And really, isn’t that all you can ask for (at least, until someone invents a real TARDIS)?

Jennifer Lesnick blogs at www.justicejennifer.com and tweets at @xseptembergrlx. She is in the process of becoming a high school English teacher. In her free time, she dabbles in writing in the hopes that one day she will be a published author.


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