This week I turned twenty-two, which brought about a gigantic existential crisis of mortality and a general sense of unease. Unlike being twenty-one, where some reckless behaviour and childish ridiculousness can be excused (because, hey, technically you're still a kid, right?), it appears that being twenty-two comes with it a whole lot of expectation - I'm suddenly supposed to be a fully functioning human being with some sort of life plan now?! To be perfectly honest, my life is more uncertain than it has ever been before and the anxiety of it all is freaking me the hell out. I've finished studying for the foreseeable future and I'm not entirely sure what my next step is supposed to be, where it's supposed to be and with who it's supposed to be with. And although I know it's some sort of wonky distinction, being twenty-two feels substantially different from being twenty-one. Being twenty-two feels like an uphill roadtrip to adulthood and I'm still at home trying to figure out how to turn the damn engine on.
I'm absolutely terrified, I don't think I've ever been so anxious about my future as I am in this moment. How people ever get through their twenties, I have no idea, because this shit (in this day and age) isn't easy. It's a constant tangling and detangling of your guts, a perpetual brain freeze-like pain and many a sleepless night. I don't know, maybe I'm just freaking myself out, maybe things will be fine in the end. And maybe they won't.
5 Reasons We Freak Out in Our Twenties:
1. The fear of failure and rejection.
Your twenties are for trying to make something of yourself, to become the adult your 5yr old self always dreamed of being, and with all these ideas and all these expectations, the prospect of not achieving certain things or reaching certain milestones that perhaps your peers are reaching.. well, that's scary. The fear of failure and/or rejection stops so many of us from doing so many things we would have otherwise given a go, and that's something I think every twenty-something can relate to. But here's the thing, if you never ask, the answer will always be "no".
Whether it be expectations you have for yourself, society's expectations or the expectations of your family and/or friends, having so many people have such a huge say in how you're "supposed" to turn out is really, really exhausting and it's really, really difficult to turn that switch off sometimes. Trying to figure out who you are, who you want to be and what you want from life becomes increasingly difficult as you progress through your twenties. It certainly doesn't help having people telling you to, "get a job!" or "start a family!" or "stop being who you are because who you are isn't good enough and you should really just be this way because I like it better!". This generation is supposed to be successful and innovative and have families and travel the world and have money and dreams and ideas and and and... Realize that the only expectations you should ever have for yourself are the ones that serve you, make you happy and help you grow as a person. And those are the only expectations that really matter, everyone else can go suck a big one.
This one is almost unavoidable. Whether you're too young to settle down or too old to be single, you and your mom's mom's mom will have something to say about your relationship status. You'll have relationships blossom and fade and you'll watch as your friends experience the same hardships and triumphs as you do, but the end goal is always the same, isn't it? In the end, people are going to start wondering why you're still single and you'll have to find more interesting ways to answer the ever annoying, "so, how's your love life?" question. In my case, I fall under the category of Too Young To Settle Down, but give it another 5 or so years and I'm willing to bet my parents will start putting me in the terrifying When Are You Going To Settle Down category.
4. Moving on/out/forward.
Being in your twenties inevitably means that you're likely to move on from something, move out and move forward. With this comes the also inevitable leaving behind of persons, places and things. This kind of change can be both beneficial and heartbreaking and, sometimes, it's the kind of change you wish you could run away from. Hey, I'm moving out of my home country and throwing myself into the chaos of an adult life outside of a native English-speaking nation. TERRIFYING.
Aaaaaaah, the crux of all cruxes, the stuff nightmares are made of. Regardless of whether or not you have financially stable parents, sooner or later you're going to have to stop letting them pay for you and you're going to have to find your own way in this big, scary universe. How? Where? When? WHAT?! It sucks, but it's reality and we're all going to have to figure out how to make money grow on trees. Sigh.
So, here's to being twenty-two and all the burdens and joys that entails!