My roaring twenties

by Devender Sellars

Next week I’ll be living in Charleston, SC — a new town, a new job, a new life. My time in North Carolina has brought me into manhood, with all of the freedoms and complications, joys and sorrows adult life brings.

Youth is arrogance, and though I was a reserved and introverted teen, I had arrogance in spades.

When I was young, I felt everything together, understood and boxed into neat compartments. I thought that life could be a straight line if I acted as logically as I felt I was. Now that I’m older and past my roaring twenties, I realize that life always throws you curveballs, often when you least expect them. And that being an adult doesn’t mean that I’m always prepared or together. It means that I understand when I need help, when to express love, when to fight and when to walk away.

My life had grown steadily more routine with the job here at YES! Weekly, a wonderful fiancé and a good life. At 32 years old, I leave Greensboro with gratitude. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way: friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances alike. I’ve spent more time in this city than anywhere else. My experiences shaped me into who I am today — whether a late night radio show at WQFS at Guilford College, at a Cedar Street house show, a Sunday afternoon walk through the Arboretum or a cramped, cold band practice in a frost-filled mini-storage unit.

My twenties taught me how to build something from nothing. How to make something work when the odds are stacked against you. And how determination can help you achieve wonderful things.

I initially moved to Greensboro in 1997, a wide-eyed 18-year-old entering Guilford College with post-grunge-styled polyester shirts, long, shaggy hair and dreams of a future life. My college years were an experience of frantic growth and constant socialization, soaking up everything around me. The time in school took me to a prison volunteer program, to Guadalajara, Mexico, to early-morning literature and religion classes and to real and lasting friendships.

Four years later, my eye was on being a rocker. Touring with college friends with the band Kudzu Wish, traveling as far as we could get in North America. These were the most hectic years of my life, working with everything at our disposal, and making a go of it for a few years fueled by love and support. When the romantic veil of a bohemian life was lifted, I saw that life as a touring musician was a mixed bag of elation and disappointment. Many band members were homeless and jobless for months on end. I learned a lot from the experiences I shared with those guys.

In a few short years, the band called it quits, I was married and divorced and back in school to further a career as a graphic designer. My life had changed dramatically again and again. I was teaching design classes, freelancing and making strides as a young professional. The artistic dreams of youth led to making a creative profession actually pay my bills.

Realizing I’m not young anymore wasn’t a bolt of lightning, nor a shock to the senses. It was a creeping thought that grabbed hold as the years passed by. Last I checked, I felt 22 or 23, not 29, 30, 31 or, now, 32. And it was the culmination of many things that sort of grew me up quickly. Age brings wisdom, but only if I accept what’s happened in my life without too much value judgment. Even the events that most people would describe as “bad” — a divorce, a band breaking up, disappointment, friends and family leaving or dying — all led to new experiences, new people and, at the least, some really good stories.

I’ve always had a hard time with change. I try and fight it, react to control what makes me anxious. To not feel out of control. I think I’ve learned more and more to embrace what happens and let go of the fear. I am happier and healthier when I let go of the things that are out of my control, and stand up and fight for what I believe when I can do something. It is an interesting mix of my world opening up and being more connected, while at the same time releasing those things and people which are unimportant.

I grieve for what is lost, for who is gone. While I cherish my youth and my memories, I think I’ve become ready to let the past stay there, cede that control and really enjoy my life in a way I’ve never been able to. As I grow older, the issues and stakes seem to become higher. More serious. Life doesn’t get any easier. Perhaps my thirties will teach me to relax and ease into the real grown-up parts of my life with a sense of levity and understanding and joy, even as I know the inevitability of sorrow.

Either way, I accept my adulthood in the present tense.

And now it is time for me to go.