I turned 22 a week ago now. In the lead up to my birthday and for some time after, I always find myself reflecting on the year that’s passed and what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed. Initially when someone asks me ‘do you feel any different?’, the answer is most often ‘no’. Because I don’t. Not compared to yesterday at least. Every minute, hour, day, we are constantly adjusting to how we newly feel in each given moment, so I don’t ever feel inherently different from the very moment before. But I feel like I did a lot of growing up this year. I faced some difficult situations but came out the other side stronger. And I really started to learn to recognise and take notice of what I want and need. So do feel quite different now, than when I turned 21. And come to think about it, there is a change from moment to moment. In how I see myself. Up until the day before I turned 22, I still associated myself with being 21. But then suddenly, with a tick of a clock, the answer to the question ‘how old are you?’ became ’22’.

Interestingly, I think this is the first year that I’ve felt like I relate to my age. I feel like I suit the age 22, like I belong in it. It feels right to say that I’m 22. I couldn’t possibly articulate why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I’ve just found a sense of peace within myself and where I’m at in life. I’m not trying to rush anything and I’m quite happy with the fact that life only happens one day at a time.

In a way, I don’t feel older, but younger than I did before. Often when birthdays come around it’s a little bit of a shock to the system, because we don’t live every single day noticing or thinking about the fact that we’re ageing. We just live. And then suddenly we turn a year older and it’s a reminder that time is passing and that it is, in fact, finite. It’s valid for even someone my age to feel ‘old’. I don’t think we ever feel old in the grand scheme of things, it’s more just in comparison to where we imagined ourselves being in life. When I was 7 years old it was hard to imagine time ever moving far enough along that I would end up graduating high school. Right now, it’s hard to fathom the possibility of ever being 30, or even 25. But this year, I don’t feel a sense of oldness. I feel a sense of youngness. Or, perhaps youth is the correct term.

I think it’s because, up until this point, my life has been in one way or another, dedicated to my education. For the first 21 years of my life (which, if I live to 100, thats a fifth of my life!! Wild!) my focus was on learning how to be a human being, then primary school, high school, and then finally, university, which I graduated from earlier this year. I feel like high school, or maybe a couple of years in, was when I really became conscious of the control I have over my life and became more aware of my behaviours and actions and desires. All through high school my studies and grades were my priority. Did it really get me further in life than if I’d not worked so hard? Probably not. But it doesn’t matter because that’s just what was important to me at the time.

That was also the case at University. So, when I graduated in April, or rather, finished my degree in November of 2020, for the first time in my life that I was aware of, my education was no longer my priority. For a while I felt like I was floating a bit, drifting. I missed Uni, and I think it was simply that I felt lost without this thing that has been my focus for as long as I can really remember. I suppose, it suddenly feels like I need to go in search of a new purpose, a new goal, a new priority, which I’ve never had to do before. For the first time, my life feels like it’s fully guided and directed by my own decisions. As if, up until now I’ve been living in the introductory narrative prelude of a video game, and I’ve only just now started to play the actual game and have control over it’s direction. I’ve only just stepped out into the world. Which is why, to bring this back to the actual point, I’m feeling an overwhelming sense of just how young I am. Because I feel like, at the ripe age of 22. I’m only just starting to live my life. I’m at the beginning of everything. And that is so exciting to me.

Ageing isn’t really something that scares me, or worries me. I don’t want to stay young forever. I’m not afraid of growing old. Maybe that will change when I actually get older, but to me, ageing is a beautiful thing. I don’t look at it as deterioration. In a way I find comfort in the fact that I’m growing and I like the idea of ageing. I just think, imagine how many pieces of art I’ll have created by the age of 40, or 60, or 80. Imagine how many poem’s I’ll have written. How many ideas I’ll have had. Imagine how much more of a complex and interesting and layered person I’ll be by then. Imagine how many experiences I’ll have had. Imagine how much I’ll have seen the world change. Imagine how many thoughts I’ll have had. I’m always going to be exactly the age that I am. I’m always going to be as young as I’ll ever be and as old as I’ve ever been. Time doesn’t stop. And ageing doesn’t stop. But life also doesn’t stop. And I’m so excited to keep going, and to discover the life I’m going to live.

Posted by:Lauren Kathleen

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