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Birthday triggers worries

Oct. 12, 2005

by DENISE HODGES, columnist

Twenty-one candles will be on my cake today.

Most people can't wait to retire their fake IDs.

Not me.

Turning the big 21 makes me nauseous. In fact, I'm developing a nervous twitch.

Think I'm strange? Maybe. But hear me out.

Today I'll wake up as an adult. I haven't traveled the globe. I haven't climbed Mt. Everest. And I haven't even seen one -- not one -- of the world's seven wonders.

So right now, I'm wondering what I've accomplished thus far.

With birthdays come presents. Lately, I've had a flood of questions asking me what I want. Most of the time I tell them I don't know.

But really, I know exactly what I want. I want direction. I want certainty. And I want stability.

Unfortunately, that's not something you can buy at Wal-Mart and stick a bow on.

I'll have close friends graduating for the first time this year. Listening to them talk about ordering caps and gowns and applying for jobs makes me realize I'll be in the same place in one short year.

I'm not ready.

A year from now, I'll walk across the stage and get my diploma.

Then I'm out in the real world. But I have no idea what I want to do.

I struggle with all the normal questions that flood soon-to-be graduates.

Obviously I have goals for my life. I'm not an aimless wanderer ... yet.

I want a powerful career in journalism. But I also want to be a soccer mom. I want a fast-paced lifestyle. But I also want as little stress as possible. Heart disease runs in the family.

Realistically possible? We'll see. At the moment, I'm slightly conflicted.

Uncertainty is a common fear. Not knowing what cards life will deal you can bring anyone to his or her knees.

But maybe that's exactly where I need to be.

Part of me has to admit not knowing the future is exciting. I can't wait to see where my life takes me. I know I have so many directions I can go and so many opportunities that await me.

But I'm still scared.

My friends might have to drag me to my party kicking and screaming. I hope someone buys me a box of tissues. That's just too many candles to blow out.

Denise Hodges is a junior journalism and communication specialist major from Inverness, Fla.