As my 23rd birthday draws near, I have begun thinking about something quite provoking.

Birthdays are something else, really. They are another reminder you are another year older and that much closer to death. It seems that just like every other holiday, birthdays are created for children to enjoy. I had the best birthdays as a child. My 5th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese; my 9th birthday getting a dog; so many birthdays, so many memories.

While not a milestone birthday such as 13, 16, or 21, I still aspire to make this birthday just as unique and special as every other one. In order to think forward, I must revert back to where I was at when my 22nd birthday approached.

Coming off the rush of finally becoming legal, I approached 22 with a deep sense of fulfillment. Graduation was around the corner and I was gearing up to take my first steps into the “real world” as an adult. I still find it interesting that no matter what age I am, I’m still viewed as a baby. Last I checked, bills don’t go to babies.

Nevertheless, I turned 22, graduated college and began life as a 22-year-old. Being 22 was really a milestone age. I traveled abroad for the first time. I got my first “adulting” job. I got my first tattoo. I came into my own. I rediscovered elements of myself that I thought I had abandoned. I found a love like no other.

Amidst all this, a deep sense of malaise washed over me. When I turned 22, I realized I wasn’t going to live forever.

The fear of getting old has always permeated my brain. When I entered my twenties, that fear intensified. I would go to work or go out with friends and have flashbacks of childhood memories, childhood losses, teenage angst, and teenage dreams. No one ever likes to get old. Everyone has some fear they are losing a part of themselves the moment that they blow out one more candle every year.

I’m sure the individuals over the age of 30 reading this are thinking “what the heck is this millennial whining about now?” It is a reality many of us millennials battle the older we get. I’m not the only one who has this legitimate fear.

Maybe it’s the world we live in. The world has drastically changed in 23 years. From the minute I was born, my life has changed. Age seems to be an indicator for invisible qualities and traits. The younger you are seems to equal the less-informed or experienced you are. I’m certain I’ve experienced a lot in my 23 years that most people 23 years older than me will ever experience.

All I do know is the older I get, the more I become in tune with all my dreams, all my hopes, but also all my fears. I’d be lying if I said I enjoy getting old and it doesn’t scare me. I’m scared of getting old every day. But I embrace it with every candle.