I can’t believe how time has snuck up on me but another year has gone by. I feel like it wasn’t all that long ago that I was sitting down to write about turning 21 and all the things that I thought I’d learned. But it’s been a year – a tough, strange, funny year. So here we are, on the eve of my birthday, and I’m saying goodbye to 21.
It’s surprising to me that 20 was actually my favourite age to be. It’s surprising because 20 isn’t one of the big milestones; the birthdays you wait for and celebrate a little bit extra. But the truth is that at age 20 I felt the most comfortable and the most confident that I’d ever felt in my life. It was like I’d finally found a way to fit in to my own skin and figured out how to fit my own skin in to the world. It was an incredibly satisfying feeling, at 20, to feel that way because it was as if all the turmoil and difficulty of my teens had finally worked itself out. Everything that I’d been through up to that point was worth that feeling.
But I kind of always thought that it would have been 21, and I think that most people can understand that whether 21 has come and gone or you’re still waiting for it. I thought that 21 would be the start of my adult life, and that I would have things together and figured out. I thought that I’d be on some kind of path; one that was known and clearly visible. I thought that I would feel ready, you know? Ready for real life. But coming out of a year when I was super comfortable and super happy, 21 hit me hard. It brought lots of life changes and responsibilities and uncomfortable situations. I wish that I could say something really inspiring about change and learning and, when I first sat down to write this post, I thought that I might. But here’s the truth: I don’t think I’ve ever felt like such a fraud.
I spent the entire year pretending that I knew what I was doing and that I had everything handled and together. And I spent so many nights freaking out because I didn’t. There’s a thing that people say about how being comfortable means you’re not growing, or something. 20 was great because I was reaping the reward of all those years of uncomfortable growth. And sometimes I wish that I could just say to hell with growth, give me comfort. Because becoming an adult has felt like one big huge change and it’s caused a lot of friction as I try and figure out how to adjust. I wish that I could say that I’ve got the hang out it, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.
At the end of the day, though, 21 hasn’t been all bad (despite how I may have just made it seem). There are a lot of memories and lessons that I’m taking with me and that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And despite not having everything figured out, there are a lot of things that I learned (and am still learning) that are important. One of those things is that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you thought, and it’s awful to have your expectations crushed like that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they turned out completely bad. And it doesn’t mean that you should stop having expectations, either, even though that’s what a lot of people say. Sometimes things don’t measure up, and it sucks. But sometimes they do, and sometimes they far surpass anything you could have imagined. So I’m saying goodbye to 21 and I’m moving forward in to 22 full of all of my expectations and my dreams and anxiety over the future. And whatever happens, happens. That’s just life, I guess.