Twenty-two taught me that its okay to feel. Twenty-two taught me that sometimes you get hurt. And its okay. Pain doesn’t care about your walls, pain demands the attention it requires. Sooner or later, you will have to stop running away from them, sit and have a conversations with the ghosts that haunt the hallways of your mind at night, the monsters under the bed – and in your head- that keep you up at night. And when it does, it comes in different forms, it comes in waves. It comes as the few cuts on your wrist, the tattoos on your feet, the deeper cuts inside your thighs. It comes as panic attacks, nightmares, withdrawals, memory lapses. It comes as tears – unadulterated, unguarded and uncontrollable tears. But eventually, you find words. You don’t find them all at once, you don’t. Time and time again, you’ll choke up on your tears and that’s okay, they will understand. The chosen few – the inner circle, they will always understand.
And that brings me to the second lesson twenty-two taught me;
As a twenty-something, you don’t have the luxury of time to entertain those who weigh you down, you don’t have time for explanations – over and over again. So do yourself the favour of walking as far as possible and as fast as possible from anyone that brings you down. As the Eurythmics beautifully said in 1983, “Some of them want to use you, some of them want to be used by you“. Here’s what the song didn’t include; you can walk the fuck away from all those who want to use you. You’re in your twenties, by now you should know (sooner or later) the difference between the genuine souls and the ones that use you. So please, break-free from the story disney sold you about fixing the bad-boys and fiend turning friend – walk away. Granted, its hard to walk away from people. Mostly because with time, people turn in to stories, stories turn in to memories. But break the chains of emotional slavery and walk away. You don’t have time for explanations, and most certainly, do not owe anyone explanations. Detox your soul, cleanse your Facebook friend list. Keep closer to you those who understand, those who accept, those who encourage and nurture your soul and “leave out all the rest” (Yes, thank you Linkin Park for all the emo lyrics that help us get through the twenties)
Twenty-two taught me its never going to be according to plan. Growing up, I had it all planned. We all do, don’t we? Graduation, post-grad, first job, first promotion, marriage, kids… you know, everything that fits the socially dictated mould. And more often than not, we become slaves to the ten-year plan and stress ourselves to the point of depression. Things don’t always work according to plan and that’s okay. First job could happen before post grad, and marriage before the first promotion. Heck, we live in the age of first child is something you could easily tick off the list before marriage. What I learned was that its fine that things don’t go according to plan, just as long as you’re ticking things off the list of things you want to do. Even if its just riding a motorcycle, or bungee jumping. I am working on my retirement plan way ahead of schedule but its fine, I’m going somewhere. Stressing on the list is only going to take away your peace of mind, take away the spark in your eyes – that passion that keeps you going. You’ll be plagued by feelings of living in a rut – a perpetual state of stagnation. So no, don’t be deluded in to thinking that you’re wasting your twenties. Its fine, “you still could be what you wanted to be“.
But the most important lesson of twenty-two was that its okay to be yourself. I think its stems from an even more detrimental realisation – it stems from you accepting yourself. And that’s a process – a notion that one must repetitively engage in enforcing, day in and day out, for the rest of your life. It’s okay to like La Dispute, Twenty one pilots. Nirvana, J-J-Cole and Kendrick Lamar at the same time. It’s okay to roam around in a borrowed shirt or a faded sarong, its okay to have a tattoo on your right-wrist – a trophy to say you’ve left the self harming dark days behind. I know my tattoos scare you sometimes, but that’s fine by me. This is me, I’m a twenty-something navigating the real world for the first time and unfortunately adulthood does not come with a manual, and nor do we have condoms to protect us from all the diseases societal ideals bring. So here I am, a little lost – a little found.
So, “Go for it
Run toward it
Dive in head first
Live life with no regret
Put your heart out there
Don’t be scared you might get hurt
But it’s all worth it in the end
Cause the best is yet to come”
Come at me Twenty-three.