“It makes sense why all your ideas are so wrong and naïve. It’s because you’re young and you don’t have a clue how the world works. Get back to me in ten or twenty years when you’ve actually lived enough to experience something.”
These were words written to me in an email.
After reading them, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could feel my frustration traveling from my legs to my fingertips, bubbling up and making me clench my jaw.
I know I’m not the first twenty-something to go through this sort of experience. To have someone roll their eyes, shake their head, or chastise you via social media because you’re just that—a twenty-something—and thus you apparently know nothing about life.
I don’t get it. But maybe I don’t get it because it’s not true.
Being young doesn’t make you clueless. It just means that you have different life experiences than others.
It doesn’t mean you don’t know what life is like. It doesn’t mean you haven’t gone through difficult things, challenging things, wonderful things. And it doesn’t mean you haven’t lived.
I’m not an entitled girl by any means. In fact, I try my best to live my life humbly. To not think I’m a person worthy of praise or better because of what I believe or what I’ve gone through/haven’t gone through.
But I’ll be damned if someone thinks my existence isn’t validated because their life experiences, opinions, or beliefs are different.
What I’ve experienced and who I am—those are things I own with pride.
It doesn’t matter my age. What matters is that I’m a real person with real experiences that no one else can justify but me.
Maybe it’s a millennial thing, and thus I have self-confidence in who I am. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I AM young and have pride in this. But being young doesn’t make me stupid and naïve. It doesn’t mean I haven’t gone through my tough times and fought my own battles. It doesn’t mean I don’t ‘have a clue how the world works’ or that my perspective and life experiences are ‘wrong.’
I know I don’t know everything about the world. But I don’t claim to know everything.
I express and write and speak on ideas that are personal to ME and to MY LIFE EXPERIENCES. Which despite the age gap, can still be relevant and can still translate to others going through the same thing, no matter my or their age.
Sure I’m only twenty-three. I haven’t been married, haven’t been divorced (and hopefully won’t ever), haven’t had children, and haven’t been a single mom. There’s hundreds, thousands of things I don’t know personally, haven’t yet gone through, or maybe will never go through.
But that’s okay.
Because I don’t claim to be anyone but myself.
My young, passionate, confident yet humble self. Someone who has gone through her share of things and feels strongly about them, regardless of the fact that I’m still in my twenties.
And regardless of what someone writes through an angry, cowardly email, I’m proud to be who I am.
So to my fellow twenty-somethings, or anyone who’s been told that they ‘don’t know how the world works’: You can’t let people call you foolish, just because you’re young and still trying to navigate through life. And you sure as hell can’t let someone define you or comment negatively on what you’ve gone through.
You are a person with a story, a story that can’t be read just by looking at you. A story that’s yours to own. And yours to tell.