When you’re 22, people take it easy on you. Now don’t get me wrong, being 22 is hard and confusing and it’s so easy to get lost, I know that, but I also know that sometimes being a millennial 20-something feels like getting handed a get out of jail free card. There are so many articles, movies, and other 20-somethings telling 20-somethings that it’s okay to be really stupid. And not just stupid, but scared. And not just stupid and scared, but reckless and selfish and downright crazy.
It’s possible, I think, that it actually is okay to be all of these things. And I certainly think it’s also possible that 20-somethings who flash their get out of jail free card time and time again turn out totally okay when they are 30-somethings. They are successful and happy and don’t regret a thing. I bet that happens all the time. Seriously.
But it makes me wonder if it’s okay to know exactly what you want at 22. I wonder what would happen if I ignored the lists of 20 things to do in your early 20s compiled by editors in their late 20s. I wonder what would happen if I worked my butt off to create myself instead of trying to find myself. I wonder why I question what makes my heart thrum and the backs of my eyes feel heavy and my fingers shake like the man’s at the corner of Ninth Avenue and 42nd Street. I wonder what would happen if I did right now what I know I want to do eventually. I wonder what would happen if jumped off the cliff, into the deep, unafraid of the world crashing all around me. And more than anything, I wonder what would happen if I stopped wondering.
And stopped ending sentences with, ‘I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes.’ Stopped trying to hide how serious I am despite the fact that I’m supposed to be a crazy, wandering 20-something. Stopped calling my plans dreams. Stopped waiting for them to fall in my lap and started climbing, scratching, crawling towards something, anything, and hopefully the right thing, but not worrying about that either way. Stopped thinking that growing up means I can’t believe in magic and write poetry on airplanes and pick my teal nail polish off in the shower.
So thank you, people, for taking it easy on us 20-somethings (and maybe even early-30-somethings). Thank you for understanding our need to experiment and watch Netflix all day and run from hard things, but would it be okay if I used my get out of jail free card as a bookmark and just started digging?