This summer, I got engaged. 

To be 21-years-old, on the precipice of entering into adulthood, and engaged is awfully exciting.  

We’re a good match, my fiance and I. Nick’s goofy, passionate and talented. He is also laid back — a definite Type B — which contrasts and compliments my high-strung, perpetually stressed personality. 

But while I’m excited to marry him and begin our young adult lives together, I have an overwhelming sense of grief. 

I am grieving the loss of the future I was promised as a child. When envisioning my future, I, of course, included the occasional stressors of adulthood. But what I didn’t envision was the impacts of climate change. 

I didn’t envision droughts and heat waves, rising sea levels, and larger, more intense hurricanes. I didn’t imagine constantly thinking about the environmental consequences of my daily habits. I didn’t imagine living in fear. 

My future has been compromised. 

But this isn’t just about me, it’s not just my future that’s been compromised. It’s the futures of my peers, as well. I think I can confidently say that most of us are fearful of what our lives will look like on earth in 10, 20, 50, 70 years. 

As someone who lives in a constant state of anxiety, I could easily say that there’s nothing we can do, that the world is ending and there’s nothing left to do but mourn our planet. 

It’s easy to default to fear. 

But that’s not helpful. 

A dear friend of mine always reminds me that I don’t have power over anything except for myself. I don’t have the ability to prevent climate change. But I do have the ability to construct a beautiful life for myself and my fiance. 

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s exhilarating to be 21 years old, about to graduate and engaged. I’m about to begin my adult life, and I have the power to reconstruct what my future looks like. I have the power to foster joy in my life, despite what the future may bring. I have the power to make changes in my daily life to lessen my carbon footprint. 

And though it may not look like the adulthood I envisioned for myself all those years ago, I can create a new future for myself.