Yesterday was my 23rd birthday. From the moment I woke up, I received texts and other assurances that my loved ones would still like me despite me being 23, which is reference to a Blink 182 song. The lyric goes “Nobody likes you when you’re 23,” and this belief is one I can certainly understand. People say that 23 is the worst year of your life because it’s pretty much a second round of adolescence—you’re no longer able to identify as a kid/college student and you still don’t feel like much of an adult.
Still I’m hesitant to adopt this song for my 23rd year. I always try to find a song that marks the new year of my life. At 17 and 21, I chose Frank Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” as my anthem. And obviously last year, I accepted Taylor Swift’s “22” as my prerequisite song.
But do you want to know the truth? 22 was absolutely the worst year of my life so far. I remember vividly that last year on my birthday I felt the first ripples of the intense burnout that would be coming not a month later. At the time I didn’t realize that my life and aspirations would fall apart within a few weeks, but I did start feeling the presence of a dark and unhappy ghost of life yet to come settle in.
On my 22nd birthday I drove to my internship with sunny thoughts and complete assurance that I was going to have a fantastic day. By the time I walked across campus midday, I could barely hold back tears, feeling terror and a weird sense of foreboding. I didn’t feel right in my body. My thoughts were out of whack and I couldn’t seem to make sense of myself in the world around me.
What followed after this moment? I retreated into myself, instantly removing all the negative people in my life and trying to find ways to avoid the routines that were causing me the most displeasure. The following months were hard, but I recovered slightly with the promise of what I thought was my dream job. As I worked through the summer and tried to adjust to a new chapter of my life, my displeasure increased rapidly and dangerously back to emptiness I felt on my birthday.
Of course, then I fell in love and thought that my fairy tale was finally on the horizon despite spending the summer sick with a chronic case of tonsillitis and an extremely painful surgery to remedy the problem. But as I mentioned before, that fairy tale quickly disintegrated and I stumbled into yet another black hole.
The following months were a struggle, but as I took time to focus on self care and listening to my inner passions, I found a new dream that was even better than I could have imagined.
I love working at Web Talent Marketing. I love my apartment that has turned into both my sanctuary and palace. I love the new people in my life and the way my future is shaping up. I know 23 is going to be a very good year and while people might not like me when I’m 23, I know that I like me and that’s a more amazing feeling than I ever felt at 22.
What I’m really trying to say is don’t give into the stereotype that one song seems to have perpetuated. I have a feeling that 23 is going to be the best year of my life so far and I hope this year, no matter what your age, is better than you could have imagined a year ago.
Cheers to 23 and the year ahead!