Blink 182 taught me long ago that nobody likes you when you’re 23. Today, as I turn the ripe age of 23, I wonder what validity was in Blink’s statement. Hopefully people don’t like me less. In fact, I would hope they like me more as I prove to them I can survive another year in this chaotic place we call the world.
Yesterday I had a visit from a friend. He came by shortly after my parents left (they so graciously took me out for dinner for my birthday) and I’m not sure what time he left, but it was after a swarm of people came to celebrate before going downstairs to the bar.
We sat for a while. No music playing but we were full of ideas. He’s convinced we’re going to change the world, he doesn’t know how, but he knows it’s going to happen and, honestly, he has me convinced as well.
I’ve never been one to really plan things out. I can plan a party, plan a road trip, and plan a dinner, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t usually have any idea what my future really entails. Lately, however, I have sort of developed this “three year” plan. Maybe it’s because I’m getting closer to graduation. Maybe it’s because I was forced with the reality that I’m not going to be living here next year and my residency will be elsewhere and I’m not sure exactly where that is yet. Maybe it’s because I have started to see life without school as I come to the end of my final semester of classes. Whatever it is, I can see the future. I can feel the freedom to choose – to have a total choice of what I want to do and when/where I want to do it.
As I sat there with my friend, who is turning 23 in June, we talked about how it just feels different. Every year people ask me if I feel older on my birthday. I always say, “not really…” but this year I do feel different. I do feel older. I feel like I’m growing up again in the same way I did when I left High School, left my home town, and became “independent” in college. It’s another one of those vital time periods in a persons life. We chatted about how we feel 18-21 is a time within itself that we develop in so many ways but it’s only minute compared to what we have to do to prepare ourself for the “real world” or whatever there is to come after we graduate, after we don’t have guidelines for every assignment and we don’t have assigned readings. We talked about how scary it is that we have to be our own motivators and we agreed that we are going to be the chains that separate one family link to the next.
Like me, my friend dreams of other places. He said, “If I don’t like it here, I’m gonna go here…and if I don’t like it there…I’m gonna go over there.” All the while he stressed that his mother and grandmother would be in the same house they grew up in. In the same neighborhood, same city, same situation. There’s a sense of guilt for continually moving. There’s a sense of wonder of whether or not that relationship between family and friends can still exist but I think the basics are always there. If I know that I can travel wherever it is I desire, but then I can turn around after however long and my family will welcome me back into their house with open arms, then that’s how I know a relationship won’t fail between them. Experiences separate people but they also give everyone a reason to share and come together.
I feel old when I talk about family. Because I talk about it like it’s something that has been existing for so long but now the outline for “family” is changing. I’ve made friends that are family. I’ve had family that turned into friends. It’s all relative. But I know whoever I call family will welcome my new year with a smile. I don’t think my family will hate me when I’m 23. I’m 23 and I feel just as lost and just as found as I did yesterday or the day before. I feel older in a sense that the age gap between me and my younger friends is growing. I feel older in that I have to think about graduation and living situations. I have to somewhat plan for my future, and I’m actually looking forward to it.
As my friend said last night, “We’ve been growing, now we’re ready to ripen.”