My First Time

fourth year myah paden

photo by sofi gratas

photo by sofi gratas

Let’s play a quick word association game: take a second and think of everything that comes to your mind when you hear the phrase, “first time”. Think of scenarios and memories, of emotions and people. Are you imagining or remembering? Stew on that; we’ll come back.

Now, think back with me to the night before your first day of high school or college. If you were anything like me, you could barely sleep that night imagining what the next four years would bring, who you would meet, and who you would become. Feel the nerves that danced in your stomach when you walked in the doors, simultaneously excited to make new friends and scared you might not. Whatever your experience after that moment, there’s no denying that there was no day like the first. Or maybe you’re not a nerd like me, and the phrase “first time” brings up different, but similarly exciting memories like first kisses and dates or adventures and trips. No matter who you are, we’re all familiar with the intoxicating cocktail of emotions that accompany a first.

The glaring issue with first times is that they only happen once, and after a while of settling in at school or work or in a relationship, the excitement wanes. In a positive case, it is replaced with contentment, but more often, complacency and even boredom can spoil what used to feel fresh.

At this point in the semester, we start yearning for something new. For the adventurous, that could look like planning a spontaneous trip to some new destination with close friends. For people like me and my friends, whose ideal Friday night is wine in our own beds, finding a way to break the monotony of the daily routine can be much subtler.

Here’s my solution: I have decided to live my life with the mindset that every new day is the first day I’m living it. I am making a conscious effort to approach each conversation, meal, and moment with the same curious excitement I felt on my first day of school. The pure, happy anxiety of not knowing what could happen in the next moment is scary, but somewhere--just beneath the surface of fear--is a hope that dares to wager risk for opportunity.

This is my last year of undergrad. I’m about to be awarded my first college degree after spending 17 out of the 21 years I’ve been alive in school, and so far, it has been an incredibly surreal experience. I’m currently leaving my first job for my first job in my field. I had my first kiss last summer and my third this summer with the first girl I’ve ever dated. Right now, I am writing the first article I’ve ever written. And with all of this, I can’t help but be amazed at how often one door closing leads to another being opened. There’s always a new first to discover. There’s always a new door to walk through.