As this summer and my time as a 24 year old comes to a close, I'm doing a lot of reflecting and I've come up with the following conclusion: being 24 kind of sucked for me, but I'm still optimistic about 25.
I prefer focusing on the good things that have happened over the last 12 months. I've made great friends at work. I've branched out in terms of what I read, what I believe, how I dress, where I go, what I try. Because Yoda was wrong. It's not always as simple as do or do not. There IS try. I've tried to keep my chin up. I've tried my best and since I'm not in charge of the Universe, that's all I can do.
But sometimes, the bad times and memories set up shop in the front of my brain and they're not so easy to ignore. I try not to let my 'failures' get me down, and to the shock of absolutely no one, reading usually helps with this. Or really just stories in general. Maybe I write my own stories or escape into a fictional world where I can make or find a happy ending, or if not happy at least one that is satisfying. But when I'm really struggling, when I'm feeling especially lost, I turn instead to memoirs.
While biography is a big genre in terms of what it covers (usually, a person's life story), memoir falls under that umbrella in that it focuses usually on one time or particular aspect of a person's life. And because stories need conflict, these books aren't always happy. People are struggling. An awful situation is happening. It feels like all hope is lost, and maybe it is. But maybe it's not. Maybe these people tried.
In the past 24 hours I've read Josh Sundquist's memoir Just Don't Fall: How I Grew Up, Conquered Illness, and Made It Down the Mountain. In it, he discusses his life from the time he's 9 years old, is diagnosed with cancer which results in his left leg being amputated at the hip, all the way up to the 2006 Paralympics where he represented the USA as a skier. He struggles with his body, with family relationships, with his relationship with God, and feeling lost. (All things I relate to, though certainly not always to his scale.) It's a well written, very open and honest story, and it helps me put things in perspective. That it's okay to admit when things aren't okay. That life is hard, but it's also beautiful. That if this guy can get through all of that, then I can get through my own pile of life. It keeps me optimistic about 25.
So while this blog is usually dominated by YA fiction, I say branch out. Try something new. Memoirs are fascinating in that they are true and instead of connecting to a character, the product of someone's imagination, you may find a connection to a real person. And when you're feeling alone, that can be a good thing to find.