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Turning Point Wrapped

April 26, 2024

Eva Ahn

Welcome back to Turning Point! In case you are new here, we interview Bowdoin alumni and Mainers about the experiences that shaped their twenties and share their stories with Bowdoin students.

For our final column, we present “Turning Point Wrapped.” As we reflected on the people we talked to throughout the semester, we compiled thoughts and stories that stuck with us from each interview. The advice imparted by our moms—Rebecca Adams and Margaret Donahue—as well as Suzanne Casey-Gee ’16, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Anthony Doerr ’95, has been unique and inspiring. But it’s been the common threads that have resonated with us the most. We hope this column will be something you (and we) can look back on in moments of panic, dread or failure for reassurance as we all navigate this stage in our lives together.

C+E: How would you describe your 20s in a few words?
SB: Hard work, the spirit of adventure, fierce friendships.
MD: Not always easy. A lot of: “Am I doing the right thing?”
RA: Exciting, scary, exploratory.
SCG: Travel, travel, travel! And constantly wondering where my life was going.
AD: Fun, super fun. Your memory tends to erase some of the anxiety. I felt really free…

E+C: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
MD: Just put yourself out there. Don’t take everything so seriously. Confidence is so important.
RA: Don’t worry so much. I know I wouldn’t have taken that advice, though. And focus on your strengths—think about what you’re good at.
SCG: Trust that you’ll land on your feet. I had such a good baseline to work off of, and I had so many great skills that I learned from college through campus jobs, clubs and taking interdisciplinary courses. Just take everything that comes and you’ll figure it out.
SB: Take time to enjoy the experience and my friendships because those are what would endure.… That sounds really trite, but it feels true.
AD: Definitely would go pat myself on the back when my friends were going to their insurance interviews and say, “It’s okay. It’s gonna work out. Keep reading Aldous Huxley, or whatever you’re toting around.”

Memorable quotes that didn’t make the cut:
SCG: To be honest, a lot of things just fall into place. And it’s not until you look back that you go, “Oh wow! What just happened?”
AD: Just remember, it wasn’t long ago that I was you guys.
SB: Nobody asks you what your GPA was five years out of college, or even two years out of college. No one cares.

Each time we ended an interview, we were struck by how sure our interviewees seemed about their lives now. They shared that while they might feel steady on their feet today, they did not always feel this way. Each described their twenties as chaotic, precarious and overwhelming, but over time, they could orient themselves in a world they built—one day, one job, one relationship at a time. Their shaky twenties shaped them and not one person said that they wanted a do-over of those tumultuous years.

When we started this column, we were intimidated, apprehensive and a bit frenzied thinking about the future. We’d be lying if we said any of that has changed. It’s scary to look forward because we don’t know what will shape our world yet. What we can control is the people we choose to fill our lives with and who will be there for us as we are going through the next decade.

Our interviews from this semester have not replaced our anxiety with excitement, but they have shown us that anxiety is a normal and necessary part of the journey. It’s okay to take chances on yourself, even when everyone else is, as Anthony Doerr so eloquently put it, “Going to their insurance interviews.”

That’s what “becoming” is: anxiously staring down your inevitable turning point and— hopefully—going for it.








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