Let me start out by saying, this has nothing to do with the Taylor Swift song.
Though I will say, per usual, she hits the nail on the head with the lyrics “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time; It’s miserable and magical”, in her song 22.
Y’all this is just a really odd time in life. It’s hard to explain to those who have not yet reached 22, and for those who have it can be hard to even put into words (again, unless you’re Taylor Swift). I think maybe it has to do with the fact that for the first time in the majority of our lives, we are no longer all doing the same thing. Since we first waddled into preschool, the next 17-18 years were pretty laid out for us. You go to lower school, middle school, high school and then college. But after that? There are no 2 paths alike for what’s next. Some go to grad school, some immediately start a new job, some move back home, some travel, some take a gap year, some move to a new city, some get married, some have kids! All of a sudden, everyone your age is doing something different, for the first time.
Change is a part of life, and can be a pretty good thing! But no one ever said it was easy. It’s not easy having your 22-year-old-world flipped upside down. It’s not easy going from an environment filled with friends and people your age going through the same life struggles, to being surrounded by co-workers twice your age and family-filled apartment complexes. It’s not easy going from late night chats with your best friend down the street, to accidentally blurting out a venting session with the parking lot security guard because he’s the only one who wants to talk to you at the office…
Lately I’ve been wondering if being this age back in the day was just as challenging as it is now. Did our parents feel happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time and in the best way? Were our grandparents lives miserable and magical at 22 years of age? Well after asking them, I got a yes/no answer. Yes it was a hard and exciting time in their lives, but no it was not as challenging as it would be today. And I think one of the biggest differences is social media.
103 of my Facebook friends who are around my age are either engaged, married or have kids (you think I’m kidding, but I actually counted). That doesn’t even include the dozens of friends of friends who I happen to know are engaged/married, or the amount of people I know that are in very serious/soon-to-be-engaged relationships. At least the same number of people (if not more) who are around my age are happily employed. And according to social media about 99.9% of the people I know have wonderful, happy, amazing, incredible lives EVERY SINGLE DAY. Don’t get me wrong, we all have that one Facebook friend who likes to use the “what’s on your mind?” status bar as an open invitation to be the debbiest of all downers. But for the most part, everyone seems to be happy and loving their life, all the time.
Here’s the rub. “Comparison is the thief of joy”, wise words from the great Teddy Roosevelt. Comparing where you are, at whatever stage of life you’re in does nobody any good, we all know that. But comparing your life to 1,500 of your “closest” friends? That is even worse. It’s not hard to do. All it takes is one scroll through any one of my social media newsfeeds and instead of being happy for people, the words “forever alone” and “forever unemployed” are all I can see.
Add that to the fact that most entry level jobs in this industry/LA are for the 25 year-olds of the world, because they have more experience. But riddle me this, HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO GET EXPERIENCE IF NO ONE WILL HIRE PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF 25? This is pretty much on my mind 24/7, one of those annoying inner monologues that just never shuts off. One night in a mildly melodramatic conversation about how my career is going no where, the father of the kids I was babysitting casually said the simplest of words that have stuck with me for awhile. “You’re only 22”.
He probably doesn’t know it, but those were the exact words I needed to hear. I’ve been so busy trying to reach the career and marriage stage of my life that I forgot I’m only 22, and I know I’m not the only one. I have lived the exact same number of years that Jay Leno has been on the air… I mean those 22 years as host of The Tonight Show were only a small snapshot of his life. Y’all, I have only lived long enough for a small snapshot!
22 is the time in life to grow, experience, live and become who you are in your own time, in your own way, NOT in the way you think will look the best on Facebook. Your love life, career life, and everything else life, is exactly where it’s supposed to be for you.
At 22 you should be happy about life. You should be free to love music from One Direction to Bob Dylan and everyone in between. You should be confused about taxes and why Forever 21 isn’t actually named Forever 13. And you should feel lonely sometimes, because that’s where the soul searching begins. My life is many days miserable and definitely magical, and yours should be too if you’re 22.
Ok, I lied. Maybe this post does have a little to do with the Taylor Swift song. My bad 😉