Thursday, July 30, 2009


It's the morning after my 27th birthday. My day has begun as I often like to begin the day of my birthday--I woke up before dawn and am taking my time to think about the trajectory of my life.

It is a little crazy that I have now had enough birthdays that I have developed my own personal preference for birthday ritual. I generally have an intimate dinner with friends, I afford myself a bit of personal indulgence (take a "me" day. This year it will be on Saturday. I have already planned a yoga class, some art time, and maybe a little hike.), and call my parents.

I am now 27. It doesn't really feel any different. In fact, I often barely feel much older than 18 (and yet am perpetually 40). Now I have the benefit of hindsight. 10 years ago today, I had just graduated from high school and was on BYU campus starting as a freshman summer term. I was eager to get on with life and didn't want to spend an entire summer at home. I couldn't wait to get college over with and really "start" my life.

In the eyes of 17 year old John, this would be the year I hopefully finished my Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology. I was nervous about being able to provide for a family while in grad school. Like any good Mormon, I expected to be married by now, with perhaps one or two children. I was nervous and excited about serving a mission. I thought of myself as a great counselor to those around me. I was thrilled by my new-found freedom of being away from home. That summer was actually probably the most fun summer I have ever had. My friends and I stayed out until all hours--having impromptu concerts in front of the dorms, driving out to Bridal Veil Falls in the middle of the night, going to the 24-hour grocery store for early-morning ice cream runs.

In some ways I wonder how much I have really changed. I feel like much the same person.

My life, however, is definitely nothing like what I imagined. The only thing that has turned out as I expected, was that I hoped at this point I would have made it back to southern California. Here I am. Living with my boyfriend and about to finish my third (fourth?) year of my master's degree . . . in advertising (?!). The ways that I choose to define myself are less concrete than at 17. I understand things about myself that I never could have anticipated. Nonetheless, in this relationship with Shane, I am pushing myself even more, confronting even more about myself and being forced to grow. Like anyone else who gets older, I can look back and say I thought I knew so much back then and realize now how little I took the time to really listen and try to understand.

Perhaps the greatest achievement I can lay claim to right now is that I am happy. I was taught as a child that true, life-giving, love-filled happiness is sign of a life lived rightly and goodly (proper use of adverbs, I swear). I hope and believe that is true. I know that I need to challenge myself more, to be more spiritually aware and live more mindfully, but I also have faith God will be patient with me and help me as I try to figure out the next steps of my life.

I am grateful for the friends I have made on this path of my life who have helped me become the person I am today and who have sustained me in difficult times. I wish they were all a constant part of my life, but life keeps us marching forward. I think we will be reunited.

When I woke up yesterday with an ache in my heart for my parents. Mom, if you read this, I love you and Dad both so much. I am the person I am today because of your influence and love. My birthday wish would have been to see you both and hug you. I hope I can do so soon.

. . . and now, it's time to get my butt in gear. I have been having the most amazing time writing this on the terrace with our flowers and the morning getting brighter (another grey day! My favorite! (I am serious)), but I have to commute to Venice.


Christa Jeanne said...

Beautiful post, John. Isn't it funny how life never seems to turn out how we plan, and yet it turns out just right? That freshman summer was, hands down, one of my best, too - I think it's because there were so many doors open, the possibilities and hope seemed endless! Then we get older, and doors close, we gain experience that is so bittersweet - older and wiser, yes, more in touch with our true selves, yes, and yet... that loss of wide-eyed idealism and innocent hope is sad, too. But, alas, I guess that's life, right?

Anyways... just wanted to say happy birthday again, and you should know, you were one of my fav BYU friends ever. Such a great listening ear! Glad to see you're happy and well. <3

John Quintana said...

Thanks, Christa! I meant to reply to this ages ago! I was so grateful you were my friend at BYU. :)