It’s Ok To Be 22

Lately, I’ve been spending my time learning truths. I mull over them, sucking on them slow like a hard candy in my mouth until the flavor runs out. My latest is a truth that’s perhaps the most obvious of all: life is hard. Or at least it can be really, really freaking hard. And it seems that the older you get, the harder it starts to hit you, suddenly and throbbing, a left hook to the jaw you didn’t see coming.

A few months ago, I bought three Lokai bracelets–one for me, one for each of my two best friends who were about to start their senior years. The bracelets–made up of circular, clear beads except for one white and one black bead– are wildly popular with people my age. The black bead supposedly contains sand from the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth) and the white bead holds water from Mt. Everest (the highest point on earth.) The beads are supposed to remind you when at your lowest to stay hopeful and, when you’re at your highest, stay humble. I haven’t sliced the beads open to see if the sand and the water are really packed in there, but either way, I fell in love with the message.

Stay humble.

Stay hopeful.

I am a person who cries when I see someone else crying. I can’t help it–it’s like my tears can sense their tears escaping and want to join the party. And lately I feel like I’ve been crying a lot. We’ve been crying a lot, together. Too much. My tears have been falling too much, slippery and quiet and quick. I’ve been watching my friends shake and tremble too much, mopping up their wet and tangled sadness with their hair. I drive home alone, talking to God too much, noticing the dark sky. The sky has been dark too much lately.

Things keep happening. My friends keep crying. So I gather those things in my arms, unlucky laundry, full and with socks falling out, and I put them away.

Things keep happening. My friends keep crying. So I try to iron them flat, to fold them up just right, but it seems my friends are still walking around with wrinkled pants and crumpled shirts, soaked wet with life’s bad luck.

Things keep happening. My friends keep crying. I fold and I iron and I hug and I cry and I look down at my bracelet and think about the sand from the Dead Sea.

Stay humble. Stay hopeful.

Stay hopeful, stay hopeful, stay hopeful.

Things keep happening, but it’s not just my friends who are crying. Life is hard. Or at least it can be. We are all walking around with wrinkled pants with bad luck stuffed into our pockets. We are all wallowing around in the sand of the Dead Sea together, aren’t we?

Stay hopeful.

So maybe this isn’t a post about my friends and our cloudy skies. Maybe this is an open letter to everyone who is learning their own truths. Truths about moving on. Truths about the kind of heartbreaks that leave you curled up on the couch, wilting into the cushions under a blanket, wishing for the easy pain of skinned knees on the playground.

Because life is hard. Or at least it can be.

But life is also beautiful, or at least it can be. It’s ok to be 22. Or 29 with wrinkled pants or 24, wilting into the couch under your blanket, but only if you add this to your list of truths:

Above even the sandiest depths of the Dead Sea is a blue sky. Stay hopeful. TC mark

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