Twenty Four is a great number. I like it not only because it is a nice even number, but because two times two is four. If you don’t understand that statement immediately I can’t explain it for you. When I turned twenty-four, I was pretty excited because, as I say, it’s a nice number. Way nicer than twenty-three.
Twenty Three was lame. My first “real” boyfriend broke up with me about six months into my twenty-third year. I say “real” as opposed to “fake” because he actually wanted to waste my time AND refer to me as his girlfriend to other humans, so this was really a step up for me. I assure you that every “fake” boyfriend I have ever had has been a real person who was aware of the fact that they were “dating” me. “Fake” boyfriends freak out when the words girl and friend are mashed together in a sentence in order convey that he “likes” you.
My twenty-third year for other people went well, so it was, at least, exciting. We had some big family changes. My brother got married a month after turning twenty-five, which obviously sent me into a tailspin of inner panic. When the people you grew up with from the womb start getting married and you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up or why boys are stupid, several questions tend to incessantly plague your mind. So, your mind starts sounding like this:
Me: But really, is there ACTUALLY something wrong with me?
Also Me: Probably, you are really weird.
Me: What am I doing with my life? Should I go to grad school? Should I run away to Europe…again?
Still Me: Euagggghhhhh. Too. much. deep. question… Let’s watch Dr. Who.
Me: Hey, this new guy seems to genuinely like me as a person.
Me: Nononono. There must be something wrong with him. What about that guy?
Me: Oh, that guy who texted me “How are you?”? My response was well-crafted. A short, but sweet “Hey 🙂 Good. How are you?” He ignored me.
Me: Yessss. Good. Him.
Me: More wine?
Welcome to my brain. It’s a weird place. But it’s also kind of funny sometimes. I kind of like my little brain. I like that it decides to like things on fairly random criteria: the number Twenty Four, for example. I’m not sure, but I think I’ll keep it. And here-in lies the problem. What do you do when you like yourself, but the world around you tells you that you don’t have your life right yet? As if you didn’t know.
Well, if you’re me, you freak out, which looks a lot like not doing anything. And a lot like pushing people away. And a lot like bone-crushing anxiety.
So at Twenty Four, I moved back in with my parents. I realize how lucky I was that I could do this. After almost seven years of living in New York City, I moved home, I got a full-time job I actually like, and I still have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on.
On moving back home, some of the pressure I felt to be a “real” grown-up dissipated. Some new pressures arose, however, from not being on my own anymore. Like this:
Parent: Where are you going? What are you doing? Who with?
Me: Out. Not sure. Melanie. She is my only friend here, remember?
Parent: True. What time will you be home?
Parent: Don’t drink and drive.
Me: I am getting picked up.
Parent: Don’t drink and drive.
Me: What? I just said I’m not driv-
Parent: Don’t dr-
(I walk away)
Parent: Clean your room.
Me: This is organized clutter.
Parent: It’s being too lazy to put things in drawers.
Me: Yes, yes it is.
Living with your parents automatically makes you a grumpy teenager again. Even when you get along with your family like I do. When I was little and played house in the same room I sit in writing this, I thought I’d have had five boyfriends by the time I was sixteen. When I was eighteen and left for college I thought I’d have my career figured out by twenty-one. When I was twenty-one, I thought I’d be in a long-term relationship by now and be engaged by twenty-six. Because that’s what everyone else’s life looked like.
At some point over the past four months I finally decided to stop comparing myself to everyone else and once I did, I realized like 95% of the people my age have no idea what the fuck they’re doing either.
I’ve begun to wonder whether I’ll ever know what I’m doing and I’m kind of okay with that. I don’t need to have a ring on my finger. In fact, the thought gives me a feeling of claustrophobic panic… similar to being buried alive but, like, nicer. And I don’t need to know what I want to be when I grow up yet. Actively working on it is enough. Because I’m ONLY Twenty Four.