On Being 23

Twenty three, 23, veintitres, vingt-trois, dreiundzwanzig, dwadziescia trzy…we are the millenials, not quite knowing who we are or what we should be.

We sit in our grown up jobs, getting through the days through highs and lows yet still living for the weekend, never being quite sure if what we’re doing is right, or dreading the possibility that it will never get better and we’ll be stuck in this limbo forever. Though it really isn’t that bad, we’re still learning, time flies on, and everyone around us is working out what stage of life they’re ready for.

We are in love, with ourselves more than anyone else, and are finally beginning to realise that relationships in the past won’t define us unless we let them. We look back at our fifteen year old selves and think nothing but “how young were we!” and yet in that moment we used to feel so grown up. Wishing we’d known how, in years to come we’d kill to have that figure again and that we could reassure ourselves that the spots would disappear, the exams would be forgotten about and the coolest kid at school would probably be bald by 21. Being an adult isn’t always the fun free world we expected it to be.

We’re still surprised that somebody out there actually valued what we told them we could do, working as hard as we can, still unsure if this is even something we care about but needing to justify the effort and expense of our degrees. We are longing for a repeat those years when time was our own and we had more freedom than we could ever have acknowledged, complaining that we had to revise for days whilst forgetting the tea breaks, friends episodes and naps that broke through our boredom.

You can’t do that now.

We complain about the lack of holiday and the speed that life is slipping through our fingers, scrabbling fervently to make the most of every second and yet longing for a day just simply doing nothing. We live back at home and probably don’t appreciate the favour that our parents are doing for us, providing the stability that’s always been there, but having to accept that we’ve moved into independence and would rather whizz from work to exercise classes or evenings out with friends than to stop, relax and breathe occasionally. We’ll learn, but for now there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

We can no longer bounce back from the bottom of a wine bottle, blocking the ugly photos that remind us of the reality of the night before, refusing to admit that we don’t always look like we do in selfies. We reminisce about people we used to know, gossiping about the snippets of information we are sold online.

When did our lives suddenly squeeze itself into 140 characters?

Relationships become real and you wonder where the line between nervous hand holding at school and choosing a house together blurred. It feels as though everyone you know are either getting married, pushing out babies or holding onto the hope that the love of their life is simply one swipe away. What about the happy medium? The fun few years of practicing being adults without any real responsibility other than to ourselves. When you sign up to online dating, caught in the middle between embarrassment and the feeling that there really was no other option. Then you’ve found the person that makes everything brighter, you can face this confusing world together and whilst still holding onto your separate lives, know that they’ll be there when you need them. Someone to travel the world with, vent your frustration on to and plan a future together.

We spend hours working out what we want to achieve before we’re 25, not realising that we are the only ones who can make them happen, and still choosing to continue the fifteen second countdown of episode after episode on Netflix. We spend a week cutting out sugar or carbs, only to spend the next month treating ourselves for being so good. Never feeling quite comfortable in our own skin. Going around in circles.

Yet we are also so lucky.

We have friends that have been around through everything, family even longer. We complain, yet really have nothing to complain about. Without realising, we focus on this limbo age where we’re stuck between where we were and where we’re heading, not realising that it’s where we are that actually matters. We have jobs, and love and freedom to travel the world, eat great food, learn about anything that takes our fancy. We’re not alone unless we choose to be, sometimes it’s ok to say no or turn around and walk in another direction. Everyone can be spontaneous if they choose to be, and for that, we should be grateful.

After all, we’re only 23.


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