Born and Raised

It’s been an interesting week for me. On Saturday, we dropped my younger brother off at college. I walked on the campus I once called home and was instantly overcome with lingering feelings of days gone by. The memories, joys, pains, victories, and defeats of my college years started knocking on my heart. Nostalgia was everywhere. I can’t believe it was nearly ten years ago when I first set foot on that campus as a freshman. Where did those years go?

It’s funny how ones perspective on time changes as we add on the years. Life really does move quickly when you begin to notice the mileage you’ve put on. At twenty-seven, I am still young, but I also realize I’m all grown up.


When people who are older than you talk about the ephemeral nature of time, you sort of believe them for a while. You nod and smile, choosing to be agreeable, all the while reciting the lyrics of “Forever Young” in your mind. But then it happens. You hang around enough young eighteen year-olds, green and full of hope and you realize how quickly the time has passed.  All of sudden, you can no longer be called a college student or young adult. And then you realize you can’t act like one either.


My life looks radically differently than it did ten years ago. I have a wife, a dog, a mortgage, and a lawn mower. I don’t get to sleep through class. There is no such thing as winter break. I’ve finally reached the place where I’m no longer in my college phase. And that hurts a bit. I always identified with being in college for the longest time. Perhaps the reason is because it was one of the greatest seasons of my life, so I constantly grasped at my remaining college connections with everything I had. I relish those years… and every once in a while, secretly wish Father Time would roll back the clock so I could do it all over again. However, now that my brother is a freshman, it finally feels behind me. Helping him move into his dorm was the sobering reminder that those days are gone. Time is strange that way.


John Mayer’s latest album, Born and Raised, is a musical and lyrical masterpiece. Well, I’m biased, but I love this album. And I love him. Strictly as a musician. Don’t get the wrong idea. The album is a spiritual, thought-provoking, and for some odd reason, incredibly convicting collection of songs. My favorite song on the album, incidentally called Born and Raised, is about the realization that life is constantly moving forward and one day you wake up and discover you are born and raised. You step out of your immaturity and embrace the person you were meant to be. This stage takes longer for some and might materialize in different ways in our lives. For some it could be getting married. For others it might be finishing school, moving out of the parent’s house, or snagging that first full-time jobs. And still, for some of us, it may be the discovery that those younger years are finally behind us.


Honestly, it’s been that kind of a discovery/epiphany year for me. I started my career fairly young. I was a fresh twenty-two year old out of college, looking for my first job. The past five years have flown by. Seriously. It’s been LUDICROUS speed. In my journey I’m discovering who I am and what I’ve been called to do. I’m being challenged to rethink my plans–even if it means heading down a different path than what I originally set out on. These years have been good to me and somehow through a whirlwind of circumstances, I discovered what John Mayer sings about on Born and Raised. It’s weird how this process comes about. You take certain things more seriously, and you laugh at things that use to cause stress. You finally believe what parents were talking about. And you learn that your life is yours to live. It doesn’t have to look like someone else. It’s time to face the morning. It’s time to embrace the life that is yours. It’s time to be you.


On the same weekend my brother was moving into the dorms and starting his adult life, my aunt  celebrated her fiftieth birthday. What a party we had. It was complete with delicious food, drinks, dessert, Newport Beach, and most importantly, family and friends. Her party was an incredible example of what this life is truly about. At the end of the day, it’s about the people you have with you. It’s about those brave souls who sojourned with you through the thick and thin, bonding during the battles and casualties that come our way in this world. These people are the visible reminders of focusing on the journey, taking life day by day. Because when you do this, the destination takes care of itself. My beautiful auntie smiled wide at her family and friends. It was a smile of contentment. It was a smile of someone who is blessed. I can only hope that if I’m still around in twenty-three years, I can smile like her.


So, that’s it for now. I’m on my way. I have a few years behind me. They are my backbone for traversing the road ahead. I also have a few memories, some sweet and some bitter, and they are both along for the ride ahead. I’m glad to put away a period of my life that was so transformative and important. I’m grateful to have been there. But I’m also ready for the next part of the journey.

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  1. Gomer

    It’s crazy, right? When I turned 30 the same sort of thoughts were running… No, careening through my head. I was not as calm as you man, I was freaking out! But after a sobering talk with you, I came to the same ready-to-start-the-next-leg conclusion. I’m taking every moment I can with my wife and daughter, using more vacation time and trying to maintain strong relationships with few friends rather than weak ones with many. Love you roomie. Can’t wait to see what you accomplish in your next phase.

    • stephen

      It’s so crazy! I’m glad I have people in my life like you, helping me see the big picture and reminding me to truly enjoy the years we’re given. I remember when we went through the book “30 Days to Live.” That was so incredibly helpful. From time to time, I still look through that book and all the notes we wrote down together. One of the biggest points I took away was your advice on maintaing the strong friendships. That has been so important in my life. So glad you’re in it!

  2. Stephen always love to read your blogs…you are such a wise young man…Born and Raised…<3

  3. Your blog reminds me of the idea–which I am plagiarizing from somewhere and am too lazy to look up–about how we are not able to ever “go home again.” The idea that the past is gone, that places and people change. Most of all that we change. This literally means our childhood homes and families don’t feel the same when we visit them, nor do the other places from our past we loved (for me, Disneyland, church, and dozens of places I have sentimental attachments to). Those places as we once experiences them are well and truly gone, even if the buildings themselves haven’t changed. I have lived in this house for four years with Paul, and most of those years involved fun, staying up late, watching the Lakers, coming home from dancing. We haven’t even moved, and yet that home is in many ways gone with the arrival of the baby.

    When I was 20, all those changes felt like losses and that was it. By the time I hit 30, I had enough good stuff in my life that the changes and losses felt like necessary growth pangs in order to get stuff that is even better.

    Sorry none of that makes as much sense as your original eloquent post.

  4. Nancy Starr-Cassidy

    Stephen – your post moved me. I love that you are part of my extended family!

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