I have never been one to want to grow younger. Around me, people started complaining that they were getting too old when they celebrated their 19th birthday. I always saw growing older as gaining more personal power, more freedom to be me, to realize my dreams. Life is not as I envisioned it would be once I reach 27, yet as you read this I have reached 27 – and I am excited!
While there are aspects of my life I would love to change (on my way!), there are aspects of my life I am changing right now and there are aspects I absolutely love as they are. I suppose that makes me human.
When I turned 22, I went skydiving in Haifa, Israel. Back then, I still daydreamed of the possibility to travel abroad. It was a mind boggling and an absolutely magnificent experience to see the clouds beneath me, around me, above the deep blue sea. When I turned 26 I faced the realization of my dream trip to the United States and Argentina. I finally experienced a winter wonderland, wrapped in connection and unending marvel.
My twenty-seventh birthday is not travel-focused and I won’t be making it to the North Pole this summer, yet this birthday is special nonetheless, as I am on the brink of graduation. My last day of school was four days ago, and now all that’s left is the usual almost three months worth of exams and papers. In Israel, where I live, most people go on a military service right after high school. It’s obligated by law. That’s why, when you’ll visit Tel-Aviv (for example) you’ll see so many people in uniform. It’s really not as scary as it might appear at first. Women serve for two years, men for three. Following, many people work to save up for college tuition or for a big trip – or both. Military salaries are more like pocket change than real salaries (approximately a $US100 a month, and you also get free public transportation and most soldiers get free meals at the base). Therefore, while many people I know find it frustrating to only graduate from their BA close to their thirties, many people I know do just that.
I feel emotional at the prospect of graduation. It has been the most amazing, most fascinating, most life-changing degree I could have ever asked for. I will miss my campus, I will miss my classes, I will miss my teachers, I will miss my friends. Yet I am proud of my accomplishments and I look forward to the treasures next year could bring.
I read a message board discussion the other day, where a girl about to be released from the military asked for advice. She wanted to know how other people experienced this transition. After having to do what you’re told your entire life, many people find that release from the military as pure freedom. No one can tell you what to do anymore. There’s no one route you must follow. If you see Israeli people partying hard in south America or Thailand, that’s probably why, or a big part of the why at least. Various people advised this girl to enjoy her pure freedom while it lasts. There is truth to that, yet freedom doesn’t end at that stage of one’s life. If my twenties thus far are any indication, life will keep growing sweeter and freer as I keep on growing. I am so grateful for all those skills and tools and gifts I did not have when I was twenty years old, and have now. Yes, commitments abound, yet so is the knowledge of possibilities, so are the proofs of the impossible turned possible, like touching the Pacific Ocean, experiencing the first fall of snow on my body or mingling with penguins in nature.
How do you feel about growing up? What’s the best birthday present you ever gave yourself?