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Alissa at the apex: no longer tentatively 20

Setting free the truth within my heart.
Alissa Van Dress
A newly 21-year-old Alissa Van Dress sits in front of a statue of St. Francis at Guarino’s in Little Italy.

Every April 30, I experience a shower of love from family and friends before blooming into May. On this special day of this specific year, my life has reached yet another milestone; I am no longer tentatively 20.

I use the adverb, “tentatively,” because not only have I surpassed the edge of my second decade, living tentatively on the cusp of my teens and at the entrance of my early 20s, but the word “tentative” describes how I lived before accepting my place in life—the calling which I chose to ignore and barricade deep within my soul.

In my first column, I divulge my apprehension about turning 20. Would I notice grey streaks in my honey brunette hair? Would wrinkles emerge like carved valleys? Would an aching back and fickle feet soon ensue? These were my irrational fears, producing bouts of anxiety about my future. But now, I am deeply grateful for any sign of growth, any breath of life.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines tentative as “Of the nature of an experiment, trial or attempt; made or done provisionally as an experiment; experimental.” I was surprised to read this definition, but a few words stick out to me: “experiment” and “trial.” My life has endured many trials and might be considered experimental at times, but I have always held true to my heart in the end. Rather, it has held true to me.

All in all, I could have started this column talking about the excitement 21 has to offer me as a legal drinker, but that pales in comparison to the joy I feel about another year of life. Reflection has allowed me to learn and reclaim the living moment, for I no longer live tentatively nor need to search for validation or misleading directions. I’ve accepted now that I was born to write and perform and to teach children God through literature and music.

I share only a modicum of my story to inspire those who need light and to humbly admit what was always meant to be. A famous Bible verse resonates with this reflection so I will end my last column as campus editor with it: “‘If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free'” (John 8:31-32 ESV).

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About the Contributor
Alissa Van Dress
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

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  • A

    Al ZanniMay 3, 2024 at 1:09 pm

    Well written Alissa! You are an amazing young woman to know! Your parents are proud parents of a wonderful daughter! I glad our paths have crossed paths from St Joseph Amherst and in “The Answer The Musical!”

  • B

    Brenda PhillipsMay 3, 2024 at 11:22 am

    Beautiful piece! You are very talented, insightful and faithful! God provides…so proud of you!