I have accomplished a lot. A whole lot. With those accomplishments do not come without consequences. These consequences are varied and have different levels of severity, but the one that is troubling me the most is the fact that I have grown up way too fast.
I am twenty, and I am not in college. I am working two, going on three, jobs. I have to pay off student loans, and if I was away from my family, I’d have to pay for rent, utilities, groceries, and the like. I don’t have many people my age in my area to hang out with, and I don’t have my own form of transportation. So, if I want to hang out with people here – they are older than me, and if I want to hang out with people around my age – I need to be driven an hour away to New Orleans.
It is hard. It is hard realizing that the time during high school and college I decided to pursue strictly education over adventures. I had five years where I had the opportunity to balance school and life – and I didn’t. I just focused on school. My senior year of college was when I realized that life was – is – so much more than grades and papers and tests. It’s about friendships and spontaneous nights and watching Netflix in pajamas. Life is about laughter and love and sweet smelling flowers. It is not supposed to be boring. It isn’t supposed to be stressful. We make it that way – especially here, in America.
Now, I am desperate to live my life youthfully and exuberantly. I want to have sneaky nights and slightly dangerous encounters. I want to let my hair down and dress in ways that are outlandish. I want to experience life and everything it has to give me. But now I am worried. I worry that I’m a minute too late. I’m no longer in college, experiencing life with my friends. I’m no longer in a community or atmosphere that promotes twenty-year-old curiosity. I’m not in an location that has a festival or celebration for beignets or just living life. How do I hold on to my youth when it seems like life is pressuring me to grow up?
I’m not ready to be a twenty-year-old thirty-year-old. I want to be twenty. And, for the first time in a long time, I feel challenged. School was easy for me – I didn’t have to bat an eye, and for that I am grateful. But, being youthful? Being spontaneous and adventurous and daring? Those traits were always reserved for my alter ego. I’m challenged because I have never tried to push myself into being who my alter ego is, and I don’t know how. I don’t know where to start. With trial and error, I think I will figure it out, though.
So, here’s to me, and here’s to you if you are struggling to figure out how to be an adolescent in a grown up world. Here’s to messing up and laughing about it. Here’s to having the curiosity of a child and the bravery of a 17-year-old staying out past curfew, not answering their mom’s phone calls. Here’s to us. Figuring it out and enjoying it while we can.