I’m only 18

Manuel Quesada Nylen - Senegal


November 18, 2018

November already. WHAT THE HECK. As of recently, I’ve been having
existential crises every other hour of the day, where I ponder several
things to what seems like no end. Every thought, no matter how random,
always somehow manages to connect back to home. Not my home in Senegal, my
home in Malden MA, and it frustrates me that such a thing happens because
my time here is flying by and I know the next thing I know I’ll be on a
plane back to the states. My team leader gave me a great piece of advice to
deal with the fear of not enjoying my time here while it still exists; he
told me to think of all the things I would wish I had done as I took off
from the Senegal tarmac, and to do those things now. Thankfully, I’m having
these thoughts now and not in March, so I have time to act on them. I need
to remember to give myself credit. At Catch 3 all the team leaders and GCY
staff members were congratulating us on being in country for 2 months. It
didn’t even fully register with me until a week later, on the day that I
read Caroline’s email about fundraising in which she made sure to
congratulate us as well; later that day I was walking home by myself in the
evening and I pictured myself arriving to my village on the first day.
Everything felt so alien, I was sure I wouldn’t dare to go anywhere alone,
and now I was doing it mindlessly. 2 months here didn’t even feel like an
accomplishment to me, because I was forgetting to recognize what I’m doing,
where I am, how I am so young. I graduated high school 5 months ago. I am
only 18. I have time, and I am doing so much with it right now that I don’t
even know it most days. There will (hopefully) come a day where I am old
and wrinkly, and I will be able to say that I spent my 18th year in a way
that so starkly contrasts the way most kids spent their 18th year. Maybe
this day won’t come, maybe it does and I’ll also wish to be young again; I
don’t know anything for certain, other than the current status I hold in
this world, among the youth, and I am taking this moment to relish every
breath I take as an 18 year old. One day I’ll be young at heart but for now
I am young, and I am so damn happy that I am. And so I am. And so I am.

Manuel Quesada Nylen