Yesterday was my 22nd birthday. So okay, let’s get the Taylor Swift references out of the way first. I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I’M FEELING TWENTY TWoO. Done. Easy. You know, I could have referenced 22 by Lily Allen just to spice things up, but I’m not quite that cynical yet. Though I will admit, I’m not a big fan of my own birthday and I was playfully accused of being ‘depressing’ when I said as much. I’m sorry! I’m more of a general holiday person, not a birthday person. Overall I had a very nice day, though. My family got me a truly intense amount of chocolate, my sister took me out for a chocolate-laden lunch, and my mother baked me a chocolate birthday cake. Any more chocolate and I fear I could be sick of it!!
I also had so many incredibly kind birthday wishes from friends near and far. Sometimes I really can’t believe how lucky I am to know so many amazing people. Even if many live so painfully far away, I’m so grateful for the Internet and how it allows me to connect with all these intelligent, kind, thoughtful, beautiful, and truly incredible people. I feel I’m always acutely aware of how wonderful everyone is, but having everyone contact me in the same day made it very easy for me to realise how inspired I am by everyone I know. Maybe there is a reason to love my birthday after all; it’s less about me and more about being given an opportunity to step back and truly appreciate everything…
Looking back, it has been a fairly quiet year. I went back to University studies in December and mostly I’ve been keeping to myself, trying to balance my life and understand what I want to do. The past twelve months have been very internal, full of reflecting and thinking and decision-making. I don’t have everything figured out, but I also realised that it’s okay not to know everything yet. Sometimes my desire to succeed overtakes everything else, and I realised I wasn’t really giving myself the space to be young. Achievement is really important to me, but I also don’t want to waste my youth. I don’t want to look back and only see me sitting at a desk by myself all the time. Which I realised might happen when my sister told an acquaintance that I ‘hadn’t left the house in three weeks’. I was indignant at first, thinking it was an over-exaggerated jab… it wasn’t. I literally hadn’t left the house in a month!!! Oops.
More than ever, connecting with people and having new experiences is what I want. I am admittedly a bit of a ‘late bloomer’, I suppose because I’m quite sensitive and introverted, I’ve never felt ready for things (even really basic, normal things) at the same time as ‘everyone else’. Even just growing up in general; I definitely had a bit of Peter Pan syndrome. The world just felt incredibly overwhelming and I suppose I needed a few years to toughen up. Honestly, I feel a bit embarrassed saying that, but it’s the truth. I’m ready to grow up now.
I’ve had enough of dreaming, I’ve had enough of living on the edges of life. I need to dive in, even though it all seems a bit scary to me sometimes. I want to feel my feet on solid ground; my mind chewing on real problems, formulating real solutions; my hands working on tangible projects, reaching out to others, making real change. My grip on reality is now unapologetically tight. I’ve had many people over the years attempt to tell me off or shame me for being opinionated and outspoken, twisting it into something I should be ashamed of. Now, though, I’m surrounded by the most incredible (aforementioned) people and they’ve helped me see that I need to keep talking, demanding, shouting. I never feel more alive than when I’m in activist mode, critiquing and deconstructing and refusing to accept the world the way it is. I can’t wait to do more with it.
All I know for sure, is that at 22 I’m happy in a way I’ve never really been happy before. I still get moody and overwhelmed and everything, but this is deeper. There is an overall satisfaction, a contentedness, that has seeped through my body, right into the core of me. I feel purposeful and strong. I don’t feel like I’m pretending so much anymore; instead I’m slipping into who I truly am and who I want to be. Getting older is very satisfying to me, being able to look back and see how much I’ve grown, how far I’ve come… it’s amazing. So many people fear getting older, but how could you, really? When there’s so much to keep reaching for, so much that will only come with more time. More living.
Bring it on.