When we are young, we are vibrant and adventurous and energetic and charismatic. Or at least, that’s how we choose to remember ourselves.

What is it about adulthood that churns us all out into these drab, reasonable and cautious people? It’s as if responsibility is a vacuum and it takes all of us in our different colors, shapes and textures and empties us out as the same gray fuzz.

Sometimes I wonder when it is that I sold out to the me of my youth. When did I start doing something I hate to make a reasonable salary rather than pursuing something I love? When did I stop being spontaneous and adventurous and become predictable and boring? When did I begin redeeming coupons at restaurants and buying tank tops at Costco and needing a nap on the weekends?

And if I really try to answer those questions, I realize all of these changes we go through come gradually as we age. As much as people try, we can not reverse aging. With our experiences come wisdom and a new perspective that we hadn’t seen when we hadn’t a use for it. After we’re through with our recklessness, we try instead to repair damage. After we’ve burnt ourselves out on things of little importance, we decide to spend the time we have left on what matters most.

And sometimes, of course, we do lose our way. We become creatures of habit and don’t make changes we should out of comfort. There is great comfort in predictability. Predictability for adults is spontaneity for the young. So there is a balance to be found, between the versions of our adult selves and our younger selves. And this year, I’m on a quest to find it. I am not seeking a fountain of youth, rather a perfect marriage of purpose and joy. They need not be mutually exclusive, after all.

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