As someone who swore never to look back and romanticize my formative years in Small Town, USA, I have fallen into the tired cliché of seeing those days as bright beacons, standing in stark contrast to the dark road of uncertainty lying at my feet now.
Learning is an ongoing process that doesn't end with old age. Learning anything requires discipline, practice, humility and hard work. It's intensely rewarding, and the process is invigorating.
After a few minutes of holding on, I realized it didn't matter if I held on or not -- I was there and this is how it was -- and nobody had died yet. Chances were I wasn't going to be the first.