I am 24 years old. And it’s a lot older than I wish I was. A pretty girl tells me she is 22 and, even though it’s only two years younger, I feel wrinkled. I see who I used to be reflected in her eyes and all the things I haven’t done yet. All the things I said I would. My to-do list is starting to look like everything I’ve failed at.
I see her and think about when I was 22. Or 21. Or 20. I was happier then, I think. I was more myself, I think. Maybe I just didn’t know enough. Ignorance is bliss, right?
When I can’t sleep, I obsess over sex and love and youth, and how all those things once existed in one. When I was young, or, younger, sex always meant love. Hell, KISSING meant love.
But now, I’m 24. And I can’t remember how it feels to kiss someone you love.
And that means I go to bars and join my friends for nights out. It means men approach me and I entertain the idea of temporary distraction. I tell myself this is what we do now. We get lonely and look for numbing agents.
Being lonely does not mean you want to be surrounded by people.
It doesn’t mean you want to be in a relationship, as if that is a quick fix. It’s not even that you miss specific people. Not really.
It’s beyond all of that. Loneliness is layered. Loneliness is feeling like you’ve lost yourself. It’s a yearning for yourself. It’s suffocating and silent all at once.
I’m 24 and feel like my limbs are being pulled in different directions at once. I am old enough to know I should be doing certain things, but not old enough that they feel attainable. I’m in limbo. This murky, unclear place. I’m just here, treading water. I’m not sinking, but I’m not exactly close to shore.
I’m in the middle.
And no one warned me just how empty that can feel.