I’m turning 27 in a few weeks and as hackneyed as it sounds, it feels like a milestone. I’m officially in the old phase of being young and the young phase of being old.
I used to think growing up meant knowing how to do things like balance a checkbook and have one glass of wine instead of five but now I realize that kind of growth is too simplistic. Like, you can learn how to drink properly and balance your checkbook whenever you want to. It means nothing. It’s not the guts. If maturity was really that easy to obtain, we wouldn’t have a graveyard of failures staring back at us.
Many people have died at 27 from thinking they were nothing for too long. The drugs and alcohol made them feel like something, anything, that wasn’t themselves and every time they’d put that stuff in their body, their heart would hurt a little bit more. And more. And more. Until eventually the self-hatred beat out any drip-drops of love that were left.
Love does not conquer all. If you spend too much of your twenties hating yourself, if you fail to learn the art of self-preservation, you will begin to break. It’s that simple.
When I moved out of New York a month and a half ago, all of my friends were going through some kind of major change in their lives. A virus had swept through the city and killed most of their relationships. Now, at 25 and 26, they were single for the first time since college. Every last one of them. How does that always end up happening? How does everyone break up at the same time?
Anyway, sometimes to go forward, you have to go back. Since I’ve been in LA, I’ve kept in touch with my friends via text and email and it sounds like everyone is drunk off summer and romance and vodka sodas. It’s nice. Everyone is being safe and smart and kind about it. It’s not like how things were in college, when you had no idea who the hell you were, so you tried on a new identity every weekend. Most of us know who we are now and we’re realizing that’s when the real fun can begin.
It’s like spending two hours trying on outfits to go to a party, only to realize that the one you’re already wearing is the best one.
The most attractive thing about growing up, to me, is not knowing information about the stock market or buying overpriced furniture. Anyone can do that. It requires little skill. Real maturity is feeling secure in your decisions, it’s learning to never say “I’m sorry” when you really mean “go fuck yourself,”, it’s knowing how to say no without feeling guilt, it’s understanding your worth as a person and not being afraid to go after the things you want. That’s growth. That goes beyond the superficial and shows that you’ve worked damn hard to have a solid relationship with yourself and others.
Also, admitting that you know nothing is the only way you can really start to believe that you’re something.