We have all heard Taylor Swift’s song “22,” which was released as a single just three days after I turned 22 myself. These are 22 points of knowledge that I have learned during my time as a 22-year-old.
1. Being happy, free, confused & lonely at the same time is a real thing. Your emotions are constantly fluctuating because we are all learning to navigate in the real world. And it’s terrifying.
2. You no longer eat breakfast at midnight. Or anything at midnight. Because post-grad life (hopefully) means working 9-5, and staying up til midnight is far, far from your mind. Sleeeeeep is good. 9 p.m. bedtimes are a reality now.
3. Also, your metabolism is going to start catching up to you, because you aren’t getting any younger, so eating breakfast at midnight is a horrible decision. Just be warned.
4. We don’t dress up like hipsters. See point #2 about having post-grad full time employment. Hipster=unacceptable work attire.
5. You no longer have the desire to fall in love with strangers. Because “strangers” in college aren’t really strange, because you know at least a dozen people who can tell you something about these people who are familiar but unknown to you. Strangers are a real but foreign concept, and you didn’t notice while you lived in your bubble called (fill in the blank with the name of your university) ____________________. [a.k.a. Gonzaga University – go Zags!]
6.There is nothing attractive about forgetting deadlines. Your job will hate you. Your friends will hate you. You need to learn to be reliable. I’m all for letting loose, but don’t forget that your actions speak louder than your words, and if you’re actions start saying you are unreliable, people will start to believe it.
7. Dancing like you’re 22 is THE BEST. No joke. You’re probably (or finally or hopefully close to being) comfortable with who you are as a person – or you’re comfortable knowing you are still figuring that out – and it is the most liberating thing that will happen to you. By now, a lot of your insecurities will have washed away because you will realize we are all beautiful to people who love us, and the people who don’t see that aren’t worth your time or energy. Embrace it. I don’t know what being 23 does to you, but I know this is this happiest I’ve been.
8. Being 22 is MISERABLE. You have to start paying student loans and getting financial advice from family members whose advice you denied for years because you were a teenager and you knew EVERYTHING. Reality check – there are lots and lots of things you don’t know. Also, you watch people you know (from high school or college) get engaged and married, which makes you step back and examine your life. Which makes you realize that you don’t have all your s#*t together. Which is hard.
9. And magical, ohhhh yea! It’s a time where you figure out who your real friends are, and how to practice having true relationships because these real friends aren’t right down the hall or across campus from you anymore, and that’s a beautiful blessing in disguise. You will get to travel & try new restaurants & find ways to be connected though miles apart. You take photographs and you look happy in them and that’s enough. You laugh at things you find truly funny. You spend time with people you WANT to and you do the things that you enjoy the most, because your time is more limited than ever before in your life. If you didn’t believe in magic before, you will now.
10. On making fun of your ex’s (uh uh, uh uh) – if you have any, that is, you will occasionally think of them & lots of laughter will follow. Your friends will help you laugh at all of the “dating” mistakes you’ve made. And that one guy that you met for three seconds before making a rash decision about him, he won’t matter in the long run, so don’t let him weigh too heavy in your heart or mind. Nothing can replace experience.
11. Forget about heartbreak. Just do it. Just try again.
12. “Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you.” Keep your friends close. Keep your family close. Keep your friends that you consider family close. Everything will be alright.
13. You can feel 22 at any age. I felt like this when I was 17. I just didn’t know how to handle these feelings yet. I wasn’t at that “place” in my life yet. And I am now.
14. Places that didn’t feel crowded before will feel crowded now. Full of people you don’t know or recognize. Like the Starbucks next to campus where you used to go and see lots of people you’d never met before but recognized their face. You will think to yourself, “This place is too crowded,” and then you will feel old. And that’s okay.
15. “Ditching the whole scene” seems like the cool thing to do. There isn’t a cool thing to do anymore. You just do what makes you happy & forget the rest.
16. “…and end up dreaming instead of sleeping…” I haven’t figured this one out yet. But I think it’s true. Because we’re so young and have so much life ahead of us and we have the world at our fingertips and can do anything we want to do. I haven’t given up on this one yet.
17. You stop trying to know everything about everybody. Because it requires more energy now than ever to keep up with people in all parts of the world that you only spend time on people who you really care about.
18. And people will stop trying to know everything about you.
19. All those things you had in common with people in college dissipate, and acquaintances stop knowing little details of your life, so they ask you questions like, “How’s work?” or “Where are you living these days?” These questions will irritate you after about a month. Be patient with people. You still need face to face contact with others.
20. Having your ID checked at the bar is now annoying instead of fun. “I’m 22 already you stupid bartender, can’t you feel my maturity?”
21. It is important to make your parents feel proud of you… still. You might be grown up and out on your own (maybe), but they still nurtured you and brought you life. Do things that they can brag about.
22. Enjoy your year. It goes by quicker than all the other years so far. And that might be because we are off doing “adult” things and spending loads of time in office cubicles and running errands takes up majority of your time on Saturday and sleeping in means waking up at 9 a.m. and socializing has turned into a twice a week thing. But enjoy it. And remember to be youthful. That’s the most important thing. You might not be “young” anymore, but no one can take away your youthful spirit.