Twenty-two. In the United States, it's the age when most undergraduate students graduate from university, and prepare to go off to work, graduate school, or otherwise establish themselves in the world. Everyone has their plans in the world, but are also excited about That age is also the name of a popular song by Taylor Swift, celebrating the joys and the complexities of youth. With lyrics featuring "dressing like hipsters" and "breakfast at midnight", it revels in the contradiction on how rough the twenties are and how romantic it is as well, coloring in a darkened tinge of rose.
I'm about to turn that age, and I find myself closing into myself frequently as graduation slinks ever forward. I do relate to a song also called twenty-two, but it is in Mandarin, and focuses on a woman who just turned twenty-two and her fears for the future. One of the lines, translated, goes "having a stable life doesn't always bring happiness". Another one has her dreaming about being twelve again, where she only studied and everything was okay.
But the difference between the woman in the song and me is that I fear that I don't have anything stable to look out towards.
This is not to say that I don't recognize the openness of the world in front of me and how lucky I am. When I was reading a fantasy novel a few months ago, one of the author's observations while she was writing was how adolescence was a relatively new concept. Therefore, the characters have to face adult-like challenges in terms of survival. Similarly, my parents told me about how they worked at my age and had to take up multiple responsibilities for the family.
On the contrary, university provides a buffer in which I could learn about myself and refine my skills. There, I feel paralyzed--while in my mind, I have a relative idea on where I want to go, I don't know where to apply it. Despite having multiple opportunities in the past, I passed them on for a myriad of reasons; most of my decisions are frequently reckless. And therefore, I am at a stasis, and haven't fully enjoyed life like what everyone makes of it. In many ways, I still feel like a child.
What I've learned from everyone involved is that one day, this comfortable state would end. One of my friends who studies flute i college once told me that in his industry, one would always face failure, so the only only thing they could do is keep applying everywhere and have intent while doing so. And that will have to be something I have to do when I do turn twenty-two--open myself to the world
In the same song I've mentioned, the woman learns that waiting wouldn't get her a result--it's through a simple motion that gets things in motion. And maybe I'll be feeling "twenty-two" and singing along.