For the last six months or so, my mind has been an anxious mess bouncing between two thoughts: I’m gonna be 22 and have decades of youthful experiences in front of me and I’m turning 22 and I can’t believe I still haven’t done this and I still don’t have that.
Why did turning 22 hold a special meaning for me?
Well, I wanted to be the Taylor Swift song. I wanted to have that energy. I wanted to feel young and going through some angsty drama in my life and feel like a free bird and whatnot. More than any other age I had turned previously, I had this belief that my 22 would be good (I’m well aware that thinking your favourite singer’s song will somehow make your life amazing is irrational but do you think I care?) I think what hurts the most is that I had this faith in myself that I would somehow turn my life around by 22.
And did I? Honestly, I’m so confused about my life right now that I don’t even know how to answer that question. So I won’t try to right now.
I guess I can simplify it and just focus on the having fun aspect at turning such an age. Who thought having fun would be so tough? Well, it is.
So I’m finally giving up. It’s less than ten days to my 22nd birthday. Sure, I’ll make some plans to have a nice day, but beyond that, I’m dropping my heightened expectations. More than that, what I’ve realized I need to really do is stop thinking about how old I am. I’ve been hyper-focused on what I have done and what I haven’t done every year that has passed since I turned 18. It’s partly the pandemic’s fault. I turned 20 in the pandemic, and now I’m 22. It really feels like that span of time just slipped from our hands. Whatever the reason may be—social media, the pandemic, or my high-achieving personality—I am realizing I really really need to let go of the idea of age because it’s doing me more harm than good.
Whenever I think of trying something new, travelling to a place, learning a new skill, doing a course, etc., my brain automatically wants to decide what is the shortest time span I can accomplish that in. Six months? One year? Two years? It’s like my brain almost thinks I won’t live beyond the age of 25.
Is it a gen Z thing that we simply don’t comprehend that real benefits are only reaped from long-term processes? There is so much I want to do and many things I’ve started, but I feel like I don’t make real progress because I don’t set up routines, and it doesn’t register in my mind that things take time. A lot of time.
There’s also this sense of “my life is over” or “this is all there is for me.” I know it is very very stupid to feel such a way at 22 when the average human life is 70-80 years—but I feel how I feel. I guess all I’m trying to do is tell myself that I really need to change my mindset. Right now, I feel that I completely need to let go of the concept of age, in order to actually just live my life and do whatever I want. Not feel bound by numbers, not focus on the time I’ve lost, or worry that I won’t have time in the future.
Sometimes, you just need to live as a human. Not as a student or a writer or a parent or a 20-year-old or a woman. Sometimes, you need to not factor in these labels that you hold when you make decisions. Sometimes, you need to forget you’re 22, and you need to just be glad that you’re alive and you exist—and live however you can.