With my 20th birthday coming up, it is time for me to reflect on the last year and prepare myself for a new one. This year has been the most drastically different year from the rest of my entire life, and it has been my most emotionally difficult year so far.
My favorite number has been 19 since I was about six and had a dream about being 19 years old. It was the magical number of my childhood, and I always looked forward to it with great expectations. That would be the year that I would do something great. That would be the best year of my life, where I would have good friends and I would do every single thing that made me happy. Surely, nothing could stand in my way. 19 was such a magnificent seeming age. I would no longer be a child, but I would not yet be burdened with the responsibility of adulthood.
This number has shaped me for the last 13 years. While cooking something in the microwave, I would always pull it out with 19 seconds left. If I received a 19/20 on a writing assignment, I was even more excited than if I had received full points. At least once a week, I would look forward to my nineteenth year.
Just before I turned nineteen, I had decided not to go to college and instead to find a full-time job, which I had just secured, to move into my own apartment with my puppy, and to earn enough money with the job to purchase land and start a farm. I was excited to start my life, and I saw college as a mere barrier between the present and the future where I would be truly and deeply happy. But during the last year, I had a few major epiphanies about both my future and myself: I did not want to be a labor-intensive farmer, I did not want to continue working in a customer service position for the next several years in order to get my “life started” any faster, and in fact I craved the atmosphere of a school where I could make friends and learn even more. I realize only now that I have not had enough time in school to prepare me for a career I truly want. In the same way that I craved simply turning nineteen, believing that it was the magical cure to any problems I was facing in my life, I craved simply to start work and discontinue school.
This mentality is reflective of my entire personality. I am always looking forward to something. I’m restless in the present. I have always looked for something to anticipate, and usually as soon as I arrive at my destination, I realize that it’s not necessarily life changing. It doesn’t give me purpose. So I look forward to something else instead, and I perpetuate this cycle of anticipation and inevitable depression.
The same cycle of depression occurred when I turned nineteen, and it has happened every single day since my last birthday. I have been confused and frustrated with myself that I am not doing something great. I am still simply dreaming of a future like I have been for my entire life. I am not embracing the perfection of nineteen years old because I am too focused on the depression of arriving here and realizing that it is not everything that I expected.
Only as I realized that my nineteenth year was coming to an end and started searching for hope in my future did I realize that the age 19 meant literally nothing to my happiness and my purpose. All of the things that I have placed so much value on, like being nineteen years old, have never actually given me anything. The most meaningful times in my life have never, ever been those things that I looked so forward to (graduation, winning competitions, etc.) In fact, the most meaningful moments for me have simply been the times that I have been relaxed and focused and happy, no matter what I was doing. I have been tearing myself apart trying to find purpose for the last year, but I know only now that the purpose was here all along, in every moment of every day that I have been alive and had the opportunity to be thankful and happy. I have wasted just about the last twenty years of my life looking forward to something, anything, when I could have been spending that whole time focusing on the present and enjoying my time.
My commitment is to enjoy my life for this birthday and for every moment of my life starting right now. I am embracing my emotions, paying attention to my surroundings, and finding peace in myself. No more future seeking.
I was letting myself become stressed the other night about life and finances and the impact of stress itself when I remembered that I could instead focus on something that made me happy and productive, so I got up out of bed where I had been for the few hours prior, I turned on the crock pot, and I tried out a recipe that I had been wanting to try out. I want to share it with you here:
Vegan Potato + Corn Chowder
- ♥ 8 cups vegetable broth
- ♥ 6-7 potatoes peeled and cubed
- ♥ 2 cups corn about one can
- ♥ 1 can coconut milk
- ♥ 1-2 tablespoons curry paste
- ♥ 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ♥ 1 teaspoon onion pepper
- ♥ 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ♥ 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Peel and chop potatoes and carrots.
If cooking on stove, bring vegetable broth to a boil on medium-high heat and then toss in the cubed potatoes, sliced carrots, and corn. When I cooked it in a rice cooker/slow cooker, I just tossed it all in at once.
Bring to a rolling boil. Cover, turn heat to low, let simmer for about an hour.
Alternatively, if cooking in a rice cooker, turn on “white rice setting,” and let the cycle run through. If the potato and carrot is not as soft as you would like, let it sit with the lid closed for another 20-30 minutes on the “warm” setting, and it will probably simmer for that time to get everything nice and soft.
Remove the lid, and stir in the coconut milk, curry paste, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and ground pepper.
Done! Serve it warm with freshly baked french bread or salted-top crackers.
More Enjoying Earth:
- You all should know now that I like my wonton soup AMPED UP. None of that broth-with-a-wonton-and-one-piece-of-spinach junk. That being said, this recipe is fairly simple, and it modifies the traditional wonton soup vibe to be more filling. I know that this is against the wonton soup rules, as its meant…