There we were last night, sitting side by side in a sushi restaurant, contemplating the meaning of our twenties.
Is 23 your mid-twenties? Or are you lucky if you get to push that off until you’re 24? By 29, have you resigned yourself to the approach of 30?
I’m about to turn 23. I always thought that by 23, I’d be this successful, beautiful, somehow totally organized person. Obviously, that was some sort of pipe dream. Jacob laughed when I told him this. “I don’t feel any older,” he said. “Do I look older?”
“I still see all of us the same way I saw us when we were 17,” I told him. And that’s true. In my mind, somehow, I stopped aging at some point and am still 17. It happened previously around the age of 12, when I became aesthetically aware of myself for the first time. That sounds weird, but it was at that point that I became incredibly self-conscious about the way I appeared to other people.
And now, since I’m still battling the ravages of teenage acne and adjusting to the newly developed hips, I don’t feel glamorous or 23. I just feel like I’ve entered adolescence all over again. Navigating the adult world is much like navigating your freshman year of high school. Or even freshman year of college. It’s exciting, and it’s fun, but it’s also really scary, and at no point do you ever feel comfortable or adequate. But looking back, you realize if you’d just taken ten deep breaths and calmed the fuck down, you’d have been fine. Because you were fine.
It was all in your head.
Not to say that I’m not happy or infinitely more confident and secure than I was at 14. Even the last two years have brought about phenomenal personal and spiritual (and maybe even some intellectual) growth.
We were sitting next a lone woman, eating dinner and worrying about something showing up on her receipt. Business trip, I thought. She carried herself with a nervous air, as though this was the first time she’d found herself eating dinner alone in a strange city.
Next to her sat the woman who somehow doesn’t look like she belongs in Denver. Her feet clad in Christian Louboutins, her hat cocked just so to accentuate her styled blonde hair, her facial features swathed in soft layers of mkeup. But reeking of privilege and confidence. (Not that those have to fall together. But they might. And do.)
And there I sat. Feeling 22.
But then dinnner came and my fears were washed away as I realized that there are parts of me that surpass some 30 year olds.
Jacob and I spent the after dinner moments scribbling awkward drawings on the back of the receipts and I realized that I’d never give up my youth to masquerade as someone I’m not and will never be.
Maturity isn’t an outward characteristic, not something you can buy in 24 carat gold. (Ew, don’t ever buy me anything gold, thanks.) That posturing doesn’t show depth of character, or taste, or class. It shows that you’ve got money to burn (although I’d happily burn some for these).
And so as we walked up the entrance ramp to the West deck of Cherry Creek mall discussing the disparity between doing what you love and doing what you have to do to survive, I felt secure.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, they say. I’m off, marching confidently onwards, it’s just too bad I have no idea where that is.