DeAnna: Old English Name Meaning “From the Valley”

Hello again. I just realized a few days ago that I’ve been back in my homeland for twice as long as I was away. Even though on one hand the London Semester seemed to fly by, it also felt like a lifetime. It still doesn’t feel like I’ve been back half as long as I was gone.

The more I think about it, the more it reminds me of the classic plot in kid shows when the characters travel through a portal to another time and place. Every time, they spend ages and ages on the other side of the portal, then return home to find out only a few minutes passed. London feels like that.

It’s weird the way time passes, how it seems to move faster at some moments in our lives than others. And we’re different people at different moments in our lives, too. I felt like I was a completely different person while I was in London than I used to be. At the time, I assumed I was just growing up and transitioning. That was true to an extent, but not entirely. It wasn’t a phase I gradually slipped into and out of. It was a sudden, drastic change both at its start and at its finish.

I’m not the same person I was in London either, nor the person I felt I was becoming, nor the way I was before. Rather, it feels like I’ve been three separate Kelsies in the past year. There’ve been lots of different versions of me over the years, and I’ve had other drastic changes before, too. This one just stands out because I’m more self aware than, say, just-started-driving-a-car Kelsie or recent-high-school-graduate Kelsie.

I’ve had all this on my mind lately mostly because I’m about to become legal-adult Kelsie tomorrow. Turning 16 was big, and turning 18 was even bigger, but turning 21? It’s the last and biggest time I get to have a significant birthday. I know that who I am right now at this man-made crux isn’t necessarily who I’ll be in a year or even a month, but for some reason it feels like I have some great responsibility to decide exactly what grown-up me is going to be like forever.

Just a few years ago, I would have believed that as gospel truth. As a kid, I thought once you grew up, you stopped growing. As a teenager, I knew people kept growing in adulthood, but I still thought their changes only occurred in a straight line. Only recently have I realized that the phases of life are ups and downs all the way to the end. From my parents to my grandparents to my great grandparents, people change day to day. Not every little change is positive: sometimes we change for the worse before we get better.

I heard talk of “mountains” and “valleys” all my life, almost always in reference to times of blessing and times of trouble. I had no idea the ups and downs of my life would have a whole lot more to do with changes in who I am than changes in my situation.

No matter who I am tomorrow, I don’t have to resign myself to being the same the next day or the day after that. It’s scary and comforting at the same time to know that I haven’t been every Kelsie that I’m going to be. There are lots of versions of me still to come.

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