twelve to twenty-two

A lot happens in 10 years.

Around new year’s (2010), my Aunt handed back letters that family members had written to themselves at a new year’s celebration in 2000. I was apprehensive to open my letter; was I a profound twelve year old, was it going to be embarrassing, how much had I changed?

The letter, written in my poorly scribbled cursive, read:

Yo Al,
Right now im at a 2000 millenium new years party. I’m making an aircraft carrier in lego’s. I am twelve years old. When you are reading this you will be 22. Hope you are having fun. With lego’s I have humvees, F-14s, a harrier, jeeps, chinook, and working on an aircraft carrier. I hope you made it out of high school and into college.
Love, Alex Hill

I may have been mostly preoccupied with my lego creations at the time, but at least I had some ambitions for my future self: having fun, graduating high school, getting into college. On January 1st, 2010 I had definitely achieved all three. I was spending the new year in New Orleans with my girlfriend, Nichole, of almost a full year, watching the fireworks over the Mississippi River. I had definitely graduated high school and gone on to college. It may have been an uncertain choice as to where I went to college, but ended with a great experience at the end of 4 long years of study at Michigan State University’s James Madison College. I unfortunately never completed the lego aircraft carrier and can’t look back and remember how amazing that turned out.

Legos seem to have been the most important aspect of my life at twelve. I guess I need to evaluate what that means for my development as a child and 10 years later. I love legos! For as long as I can remember I’ve been constructing things out of legos, but I was very particular as to how this worked. I was very conscious of color and design. I had a meticulous system of organization for all my lego pieces and enjoyed the creative problem solving that occurred. My lego corner in the basement was my safe haven for all my thoughts and creations to come to life. Legos taught me success and failure, they allowed me to deconstruct, learn by doing, and try again.

So, legos were important, but did my twelve year old self have any idea what was to come next? In just one year I would be thirteen and my entire life would be given purpose and direction. That summer I would meet Fr. Joseph Birungi and found the organization, SCOUT BANANA, the following summer I would travel to Uganda and see the harsh realities of our world at the ripe age of 14. The years that follow after that were just as loaded with significantly life altering experiences, people, and places, but thirteen was the pivotal year from which all of my current life springs.

Its crazy to look back and see that in just one year, my thirteenth year in this world, my life would be impacted beyond my wildest dreams. That year following the beginning of the new millennium would set me on a path taking me across three continents, to 16 different countries, having critical experiences that would lead me to meet hundreds of amazing individuals who would all have a profound impact on how I developed as a person, a friend, and a leader.

A lot happens from twelve to twenty-two. In just two months I’ll be turning 23 and I have no idea what the next year will bring. I’m grateful to my twelve year old self, but even more grateful for the people who made it all happen: my parents, grandparents, leaders, mentors, friends, girlfriend, colleagues, trainers, co-workers, randos and strangers – Thanks!

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