I’ve been 30 for almost a month. And don’t tell my 20-something self this, but it isn’t so bad. I’ve joked with some that when I woke up on June 20, my bones hurt and my knees started popping. Those who know me understand that I appreciate a good exaggeration, and just raise their brows and roll their eyes when I say such things.
In the weeks leading up to my 30th birthday, I spent some time thinking about what legacy I could build for my life. Perhaps it’s asinine to assume that an ordinary person like me could leave a legacy, but I’ve always been a dreamer.
The more I thought about what I wanted the legacy to be, the more clear it became that it needed to be about others. Not about me. Not about my wants. Not about my needs. Not about my desires. No. It needed to be about others.
When I look at the world around me, I see more than faces. I see people with stories. People with dreams and hopes and wishes. And pain. And needs. And when I look at that world and into those faces, I begin to realize that we, as humans, weren’t put on deserted islands. There’s a reason we’re all here together. And that reason, is to live our lives for others.
My 20s were my most selfish period of my life. And in retrospect, maybe they needed to be. I had to devote my life entirely to my studies and my career to get to where I am today. I’m here, though. And I’m happy. And it’s time to get that little girl who would drop anything to help anyone back.
In May, a friend of mine, Sarah, posted something on Facebook about a young woman she was mentoring. This young woman was getting ready to move into her first apartment on her own in Los Angeles. Do you remember that feeling? I do. After leaving the comfort of my parents’ home, my first dorm room, the sorority house and the apartment I shared with baseball players my senior year (living in a sorority for two years was enough for me in terms of girl roommates), I really moved away from home. 1,000 miles away, in fact. To California and the very first apartment that was all my own.
My parents and best friend helped me move into my apartment. My dad and Jessica put together furniture while my mom helped me unpack my dishes and clothes. I remember feeling loneliness and quiet like I never experienced a few days later, when they would get in the car to go. However, I knew though, that if I needed anything they were a phone call and short flight away. I wasn’t alone.
The scenario isn’t the same for the young woman my friend mentors. Gabriella is a young woman who was raised in the foster care system. It was Sarah and another young woman who helped Gabriella move into her new pad. To top it off, Gabriella is fighting AIDS and cancer. Yes, you read that right.
When I saw Sarah’s post about Gabriella several months ago asking for donations of used furniture and household goods for Gabriella’s first apartment, I knew I had to do something. This was a chance to help someone. This was a chance to reach out and make life a little easier for someone who didn’t ask for anything. This was a chance to give to someone that I would never want to repay me. It was a chance to do something for someone other than myself.
Will you help me? I’ve launched a CrowdRise fundraiser for Gabriella here. Remember your first apartment? And that ugly painting you hung over your television? How about the awful colored dishes your purchased? Or how annoyed you were when you realized how expensive cleaning supplies are? The money you donate will all be used to purchase this young woman who faces battles unlike any you and I have known a Target gift card. This way, she can choose her own decorations, pick out her own awful dishes and stock up on some cleaning supplies. Please also feel free to leave a message of support for Gabriella in the comments section and I will put them in a keepsake journal for her that will be sent along with her gift card.
A first apartment. It’s something that gets put away in your memory forever. It’s a first real bite and taste of freedom. It’s the first glimpse of reality and adulthood. It’s something to be treasured. Let’s give this young woman, Gabriella, something to celebrate.