But time makes you bolder, even children get older

I turn 22 years old today. Another trip around the sun is complete. Birthdays always give me mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am reminded on this day more than ever that I have a family and group of friends who love me. That love is brought to life through hugs and birthday punches, phone calls and texts, and cards and gifts. This all makes me feel incredibly grateful and spoiled. On the other hand, birthdays carry a similar weight to New Year’s: a constant reminder of the unceasing ticking of time as the Earth slowly but surely spins to an unknown fate.  

I don’t know exactly when the concept of time first began to scare me, but it was fairly early. I’m not sure how many other 10-year-olds were spiritually relating to “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. I never bothered to ask. Yet, this fear of getting older didn’t just revolve around my loss of childhood but more importantly the inevitable loss of those around me, especially those older than me. 

By now, I’ve experienced firsthand some of the difficulties that come with getting older, but I can’t say my fear has subsided. Instead, it’s transformed. Now I just worry about being too old. I feel washed up, like my glory days are behind me. I feel like that “Pride and Prejudice” quote: “I’m 27 years old. I’ve no money and no prospects. I’m already a burden to my parents. And I’m frightened.” 

At this point, you’ve probably reached the conclusion that I have an incredibly myopic view of the world. A 22-year-old saying she feels old?! Give me a break. 

Yet in all seriousness, why is it that I feel this way? Why did I feel like I had to have made my magnum opus by the age of 17 or be considered a failure if I didn’t do so? Sure, maybe it has something to do with the high standards I set for myself, but – and I’m no expert – it probably says something about society too.  

We’re constantly surrounded by success stories on social media, especially from young people. “Breaking News: 7-year-old just gets degree from Harvard” or something ridiculous like that. Even with the people we know, social media is only showing us their highlight reel. So, when you see that kid who cheated on all his tests in high school traveling the world, it’s hard not to feel like you’re doing something wrong.  

However, the main lesson here is that there is no timeline to life. Everyone does things at their own rate and that is perfectly fine. Don’t let social media warp your viewpoint on what your life should look like by a certain age. Birthdays should be occasions to celebrate, not mourn.  

So, I will be listening to that Taylor Swift song about being 22 today. No, not the one called “22.” I prefer “Nothing New.”