Today is my last day of being 22. While I do not necessarily believe that a new year or turning a year older should be a sole catalyst for change, reinvention or reflection, I do believe that this is a better time than any to sit back and think.
When I was younger I could not wait to be 22. Perhaps it was because of how cool and generally flawless those girls looked in movies, or because growing up I was always excited for my idea of what the future would hold: freedom, friends, boys, a career, maturity, and lots of happy hours. 22 was definitely that, and then some (less maturity, more happy hours).
It has been a YEAR, let me tell you. Sitting here now I can honestly say that this has been the single most eventful time of my entire life. I had my last semester of college, which was a goddamn emotional roller coaster given that it marked the end of the best four years I had ever known. I graduated on time against all odds because let’s be honest I passed statistics by the skin of my ass and lots of persuasion (thank you, Communications degree!) Side note: Do not knock the power of your major. Unless you’re going into something extremely specific, like med school, trust that you made the right choice if that is the direction you are really striving to move in.
Right after graduation I was forced to leave some of the closest relationships I had made in the Midwest suddenly going from being around my girls every day to being entirely on my own. Only a recent college graduate could truly understand how emotionally draining that is, as there is no preparing for that level of separation. After a brief period of denial, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Keeping in touch was not as easy as I had hoped, and distance proved to be a real bitch when trying to maintain those relationships. Through those though months I learned that while a Skype session every few weeks is not comparable to late night conversations in the dorm, it is the little things that matter when it comes to sustaining friendships, and I have learned to appreciate them more than anything. Maintain these relationships by any and all means possible, be that an occasional text or monthly Facetime.
Further adding to this awkward transitional period, I moved out of my parent’s house two weeks after getting back from Ohio. Please note note that I did not have a job at this point so this was just a leap of faith. After a few short-lived restaurant jobs got an offer from a place I thought would provide a good foundation for my career in entertainment, though it was not my first choice whatsoever. I quit that job two months later after becoming super depressed, without any plan or job prospects on the horizon. By the grace of whatever higher power is out there, and a ton of support from my parents and mentor, I was offered the job I always wanted and suddenly the meaningful career element of my life that I always reached for became a reality. So, while it may not be entirely smart to just jump ship without any plan, it is the best advice I can give. Also, unless its your dream job, do not take the first job offer you get, no matter what your parents/guidance counselor/college adviser/grandma tells you. A good job is not easy to find but it will be worth the wait.
Oh, and the boys. If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I have been tried by some dudes out here over the past year. I have been invited to threesomes (which I not-so-politely declined), yelled at, told I am too bitchy (probably true), scolded for my transparency in my blog, generally disappointed, slandered in group chats and on three separate occasions told that I was expected to give it up after being taken to dinner. Now to be fair, I have also had some amazing experiences which have inspired me to keep dating and keep my standards high. There are some great men out there, though I may not be fully compatible with all of them. I have learned that trying to prove my self-worth to someone else is a huge fucking waste of time, I should only have sex when I am 100% down and ready, and that both my emotional and physical well being always needs to come first. I have learned how to successfully balance a roster, not fall in like with a dude after a few weeks of “talking” and the importance of getting to the core of a man’s character before investing myself whatsoever.
Conversely, I have also learned how to be fine with being completely alone. And when I say that I’m talking about alone on a Saturday night with Netflix and a bottle of wine alone…and happy about it. Not just content, happy. There have been weeks where my phone has been dryer than the Sahara and those have been some of my best and most productive times. I think that type of satisfaction takes strength, especially in a world where outside validation from the opposite sex is given way too much credit. Validate yourself first or else you leave yourself open to others to do it for you. SO, if you haven’t already, delete every fuck boy in your phone and stop being so pressed for male attention that you forget about #1.
This year was about myself and continuing to grow and work to develop into my best self. Overall, this year taught me that I am a perfectly imperfect work in progress. My only hope for anyone else entering this time, enjoy all of it (even the fuckery, and trust me there will be lots of it). Find yourself someone to help guide you when you literally feel like everything is going to shit, who you can truly learn from and give back to. No matter how much freedom you get post-college or where your first job takes you, make time for family. Everything that happens is a lesson, so do not take it too personally if things do not go as planned, but try to learn from it. And of course, if you ever need someone to talk to, I got you.
What I’m trying to say is that being 22 is something else and I would do it all again in a heart beat. But, I am so ready for 23.