Not too long ago, my best friend and I were commiserating over the phone. I'm so tired all the time, I sighed. I don't understand how everyone else has all the energy for hobbies and dates and networking events and side hustles and dancing till 2am on weekends. All I want to do after coming home from work... is to fall asleep to an episode of Parks and Rec. Let me rest for a year, then I'll try and conquer all of the above.
"That's just it," Cassandra replied oh-so-wisely. "We feel so unprepared. Before we knew it, we were thrust into being in our early twenties. People are saying: go wild! You're allowed to not have it all figured out! This is the time for discovering what it is you really want! Make mistakes, learn from them! ... But by the time we've made peace with the idea that this is the time for experimenting and go-getting and lining our ducks up in a row... we'll have run out of time to do so. Then, we'll be in our mid-twenties, late-twenties, and we'll be expected to at least be walking on the right path towards whatever it is we figured out we wanted."
I've always been slow to accept things.
After all, this past Friday, I finally went and picked up my diploma. Six months after I graduated.
I also bid adieu to my university email address and clicked "accept" to an alumni account.
That night, we sipped on sweet tea vodkas in the downstairs lounge of a college dorm, fresh off a Chipotle dinner and a BevMo run. We snorted as we giggled over the 'remember whens.' I was so desperate for us to stay in that moment. I wanted so badly for that scene to still be the life I know rather than the life I once knew.
But too soon, we were in the car headed back towards life-after-college, a sometimes rewarding, sometimes frustrating realm of salaries and bills and long commutes and homework-free evenings.
There are some parts of 22 that I have down pat.
Brunching, for one. You say "mimosa special," I say "count me in!"
Living in a constant state of wanderlust, and giving in to it somewhat often.
Career-wise, I feel very 22 in that I'm constantly observing, absorbing information, gaining skills, and questioning. I see-saw between "omg best job everrrr" to "but what's the next step?! Shouldn't there always be a next step??" to "what about grad school!" to "okay but what happens if I move abroad for a couple of years" to "I wouldn't be upset if I stayed at my company until I retired," to "am I really to do this for the rest of my life? But what. if. I was meant to have a completely different career? What if my talent lies elsewhere, what if my contributions could've been more meaningful in an entirely different field? Have I screwed up my whole life?!"
I feel even more 22 when my friends voice similar concerns. Such relief and validation.
I feel 22 when I survive on a diet of pizza and sugar.
But not so much when I avoid the gym like the plague.
I feel 22 when I make plans for a night out on Polk St.
But not so much when I skip them in favor of a night babysitting and playing competitive rounds of Loonacy and laughing at Best of Vine videos with the bestie.
I feel 22 when I order mojitos at a weekend lunch.
But not so when that comes after helping out at a friend's softball clinic for girls 9-12. In that case, I felt so much older. Or when I showed up at my alma mater in heels and a nice coat. I forgot that campus is "sweatpants-and-sweatpants-only friendly."
I feel 22 when I go to SF Restaurant Week dinners on a whim and can afford to do such a thing.
But not so much when I come home afterwards and see the following on my Facebook feed: an engagement, a baby bump, someone making it on Forbes' 30 under 30, friends starting successful companies and ventures, training for the Olympics, and leaving to teach English abroad. That makes me feel like I'm light years behind my peers.