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Less than a week is left in the year 2022, which will be especially memorable to me simply because it was the year in which I turned nine-and-twenty. As the start of my fourth decade alive fast approaches, I have begun to consider how I started my third decade.

And indeed there are a couple of striking differences between me now and me ten years ago.

First of all, I can’t, and ought not to, in good faith, plead innocence in the wake of my errors any longer. I’ve committed too many of these in the past ten years, not to be warned against imprudence by the many scars, inner and outer, that they have left me.

Furthermore, even without experience—even supposing I never fell too hard to bruise—because Literature and History have been my constant companions over many lonely, quiet, rainy afternoons, I like to think common human foibles don’t elude me as they did when I was a teenager.

Secondly, as my chin can now boast a beard, so my heart can do now principles. By this last word I mean everything to do with morals, pride, and respect. With the help of the abovementioned resources as well, I’m well aware of which actions I require from others, and which I require for myself, in the face of insult or injury, towards myself or those around me.

In essence, I’m a much more responsive defender of what’s near and dear to me than previously.

Thirdly, whereas before I really struggled to speak up, nowadays I’m able to talk up others, singly or in a crowd, indefinitely and spontaneously—and especially in person. This is the result of a lot of practice, both intentional and incidental, given the several customer-facing jobs I’ve held during the past decade.

It’s even marvelous sometimes how immediately, as if on the flip of a switch, I can conduct small talk or solicit an opinion. However, it’s not that I have been able to completely do away with that over-thoughtful reserve in which I so often indulged as a teenager.

Sure, I still have a taste for talking minimally, but after more than a dozen lost opportunities, I’ve learned that staying quiet is more a hindrance than a help for my achieving my goals.

Finally, the clear and obvious difference. I no longer look like a teenager, nor even like one-and-twenty. I look like a seasoned adult. If, after ten years, Life and Nature had shown me nothing new, or if I was too headstrong to listen to them, my mature appearance alone would suffice for me to now act more my age, for propriety’s sake.

Keven Balderas

Keven obsesses, nearly to the point of madness, over a new interest every two years. So far, his interests have included Latin, drawing, skateboarding and photography.

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