10/19/2012 10:35 am ET Updated Dec 19, 2012

Tales of a Pre-Quarter Life Crisis: When You Were Young

The summer sun starts to set, making the sky in Kenya a warm blue and clouds pink; the desert is cooling down. Our safari Jeep bumps over miles of rocks and sand.

We're in the middle of the African desert, surrounded by hundreds -- if not thousands -- of acacia trees and dunes of sand, each higher than the next.

The sun never looked so big, the desert never looked so endless.

My sister and I are laughing; I'm 12, she's 9. We've spent the past day on safari and my baby fat cheeks are sunburnt.

We still have gaps in our teeth; it's the pre-braces days.

We aren't on anti-depressants or ADHD meds; we aren't seeing weekly therapists;
we aren't slamming doors; we aren't calling our Mom names; we aren't hating each other:

It's the pre-teen days.

Our heads stick out of Jeep's roof, looking at the infinite sky, the breeze hitting our innocent faces. We're laughing, we're smiling, we're oblivious of what's to come.

We don't know that in a few years from now each of us will be completely different people, and that's okay, because right now, in this fragile tiny zip of a moment, everything is and will be, okay.

It's weird to look back at moments like this, to muddle through the back of your brain and replay little glimpses in time. All you end up asking yourself is how did things go wrong? When did things go wrong?

You see how far you've come, acknowledging the person you were and the person you are now. It's only natural to change, that's what growing up is, right? You can't help but not wonder what things would have been like if you had gone to a different school, hung out with a different group of friends, made different choices.

Always looming over your head is the future. What will it be like in college? Will it really be any "better"? Will things actually be different? Even though everyone tells you things get better in college, it's all one big question mark after another. There's the part of you that seriously believes it, but obviously another part thinks it's just a fat lie.

You may hate the way things are right now, with all the uncertainty and what feels like a constant transition, but there's something kind of comforting to know that you were once that little kid -- the one with his head stuck out of the Jeep; laughing smiling. He's still there, somewhere.