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I Am 28.

I am 15. I'm looking down at the essay I received back from my English teacher today. I flip furiously through the pages. I barely can contain my smile. I'm looking for all the"+" signs. She didn't just grade a paper with a letter. She let you know which thoughts were worth pursuing further, which thoughts were profound.  The more "+" marks next to a paragraph the better. "+++", “++", "++++", and another "++" and then there it was "+++++." I am so excited when I see these marks on my essay. I look over to the student next to me (he's currently grimacing at his paper) and quickly back at my paper. I'm so happy because these marks make me feel smart and wise for my age, and I definitely did better than the person next to me!  I'm more excited though because Ms. Whiting thought MY thoughts were interesting. She liked my ideas and thought they were worth exploring on a deeper level. "Good job, Super KT," she wrote on the last page. "I can't wait until your bestselling novel comes out." Wow. Way to put the pressure on. Ms. Whiting encourages me. She criticizes me. She even laughs with me when I sit next to her during the lunch detention she assigned me for not turning in my homework. I know she is disappointed in me, but surely she will understand. I had been spending quality time with a boy. A BOY! How was I supposed to get ANYTHING done? "I'll make it up to her. I'll finish a novel." I tell myself.

I am 18. All my friends are excited that they get to study what they always wanted to study. They know what they want to do with their lives. I, on the otherhand, go to college so I can stay on my dad's insurance. I have epilepsy- which surprisingly is not a challenge that has changed my life forever. Epilepsy is more like an annoying stain on my shirt that I wash every day and disappears after washing, only to reappear at inopportune times. Most people don't even notice this stain on my shirt, aside from the occasional weirdo who looks straight at the stain instead of my entire outfit, and then stare at my head as if they are expecting my brains to ooze out of my ears any second. Because I have Epilepsy, I take medication every day to control it. Because I take medication every day, I have to have insurance and because I have to have insurance, I have to stay in school to be on my dad's health plan. I am infuriated. I just finished 13 years of school I don't want to go back! Besides- I don't even have a clue as to what I want to study. What do I want to do for the REST....OF....MY....LIFE? 

I am 20. I drop out of college and get a job. Consistently, I battle with the question of who or what I want to be when I grow up as I work different jobs over the years.  I know I want to dance and write and travel. I want to capture memories and share experiences with others. I want to work for myself, grow my own food, explore the world, learn new things, teach someone how to do something I know how to do. I do not want to be any one thing. I want to learn as much as I can and college does not offer learning "all the things" as a major. I spend the next couple years dwelling on these thoughts in the most mundane work places. Then I meet him.

I am 22. He is 22. He is kind. He is funny. He is cute. He holds my hand. He kisses me softly. He hugs his mom. He drives 1 1/2 hours to see me. He drives 2+ hours to hang out with my brother, sister, mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, 8 cousins, cousins’ wives, cousins’ kids and me and he has fun with these crazy loud people. He is reliable. He is adventurous. He sends me surprises. He smells good. He wishes me “sweet dreams”. He is my best friend. He asks me to marry him and suddenly I am faced with the most challenging decision of my life.

I am 23. I have not written a novel. I have not traveled the world. I have not had the experiences I wanted to have or expected to have. I did not think I was going to get married until I was 27 or 33. I still don't know who I am or who I am going to be.  THIS is the most challenging moment because how I answer this question would not only forever change him, but it would also forever change me and I was not even sure who was.

I say, "Yes."

I am 28. I have started a novel. I live in my parents’ house in my sisters' old room with my husband so that we can save money to travel the world. I get to share these amazing experiences with my husband who just also happens to be my best friend. I know I don't have to be any one thing. I am a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend and a wife. I don't know where he and I will be next, but I know we will have fun. I'm looking down at the screen of my computer I purchased from Best Buy two years ago. I scroll quickly through the paragraphs I wrote for this project assignment. I barely can contain my smile.

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