(Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash)

When I was 10, I often dreamt about turning 23. It seemed like a nice age to be at: not entirely a baby to the big 2 gang, but also not experiencing a quarter-life crisis. It was riiiight in the middle. Not here, yet not there. But that’s exactly the problem.

I woke up today and realised I wasn’t really anywhere. Sure, I’m in my final semester, that means no more deadlines, assignments, essays etc. That should be a good thing right? (Knowing that I spent the last 4 years writing nearly 100 essays). The imminent end of being in this protected little bubble of what I call ‘being a student’ left me questioning if I really had what it takes to be an ‘adult’. Sure, I already am one; but being in the veneer of university sheltered me so much. When I turned 20 I thought I still had time to sort things out. When I was 21 I suppose I had an idea of what I wanted. 22 made me feel like I had it all planned out. Now, I’m 23 and I should have had enough trials to get this thing figured out and executed–but I don’t.

I know of people my age who already have their entire life planned out, DOWN TO EACH YEAR–secure jobs, a career ladder goal, a steady financial plan, a loving (potential) life-long partner and (probably) engaged–ready to take on adulthood like it’s their 23464784th try.

Then there’s me. Good old me. Still trying, and trying, each day without any guarantee if any of this will work. Heck, sometimes I don’t even know what I’m trying, or even if I’m trying hard enough. I guess it’s not easy to not compare yourself when all you’ve ever known was how to adjust yourself according to the pace of your environment. It’s hard to do things on your own terms when there’s always something or someone breathing down your neck.

I guess in all honesty I’m just scared. Scared of having to face the world alone. Scared of putting myself out there because sometimes I feel like I’m just a baby trying to act like I’ve got my shit together when really–I don’t. There’s so much I want to do, and I guess I’ve got all the time I need. But then again there’s also so many reasons for me to hold back.

But I guess this is what 23 feels like. It feels like the first time you confess to your crush–the sinking feeling in your stomach when you are unsure if this would go left or right (and probably risking a lifetime’s worth of embarrassment should they say no). It’s also like waiting for your turn in the dentist office knowing you’ve got 4 extractions to be done.

Sometimes, it feels a little different. It feels like looking forward to really good leftovers you’ve saved for yourself in the fridge from yesterday’s dinner, and to return home only realising someone’s already ate it. It feels like waking up thinking you still have 3 hours left of sleep when you only have 5 mins till your alarm goes off.

But here I am, still alive and breathing; getting by each day as I try to be a better me than I was before. Trying to forgive myself more because it’s okay to cry a little harder and to hurt a little longer than usual.

This is what 23 feels like and it’s not going to get any easier, but I guess I can find comfort in every laugh and tear that I share with the ones I hold dear.

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