Everyone says 23 will be the worst year of my 20s. And to that, I say, who knows?
Maybe 23 isn’t all that bad. I’m learning how to be on my own, to cook more than frozen pasta. Through trial and error I’m figuring out the appropriate amount of wine to drink to avoid a hangover. I’m learning that growing up is scary but inevitable. I have (kind of) figured out how to write a cover letter and the graceful art that is “networking”. I have no choice but to embrace the terrifying universe that is my future. Everything is still so unknown — drowned in mystery and hope and I think that’s why 23 is so terrifying.
When you’re 20, you begin to craft the image of who you are and what you want out of this crazy conundrum called life. You find yourself in political debates, taking philosophy and liberal arts courses and FINALLY picking a major. You meet amazing people, from friends to professors, who shape your worldview and shake the essence of what you thought you knew about relationships and life. You begin listening to bands from your parents’ generations, maybe even slapping a Grateful Dead sticker on your bumper. You probably start smoking pot or experimenting with some sort of drug that “opens your mind.” These years are crucial because everyone needs to be that liberal college thinker. I honestly look back on my hippie days and laugh, but at the same time they made me who I am today. I am thankful I was young and foolish enough to spend every dime on concert tickets, music festivals, books, and albums. I am thankful I was young enough to love with passion, to accept that not everything is “meant to be” to turn my heartache and failure into grown and motivation. I would have never discovered my love for filmmaking, never rekindled my passion for writing and never learned about conspiracy theories, which ultimately gave me the ability to question everything around me.
When you are in your late 20s, you will probably (hopefully? I hope I will, anyway) have a good job. It might not be your dream job but it’s a job. You’ve gotten used to the routine of adult life, but still have a hangover every now and then. Maybe you’re in a serious relationship or maybe you’re still single, but you’ve finally found yourself mature enough to honestly love another human being. You are still wary about that weird thing called the future, but at least it seems plausible now — not scary, just weird. You have gained confidence in navigating the world that is a 9-5 job, rush hour, and your daily Starbucks order. Of course at the heart of things, you are still scared but you are confident. You know more now than you knew then.
What is then? I think then is 23. I have a feeling this will be the hardest year of my 20s but also the year in which I grow the most. There is no growth without struggle. I have to accept and taste the sting of being rejected from jobs, of late nights and small paychecks, of potential heartbreak or potential forever. It is all so scary because we still look at ourselves as those wide-eyed twenty year olds-ready to complain about life but not ready to fully face it. 23 might just be the best year of my 20s, who knows?