What’s So Special About Turning 23?

Nothing. There’s absolutely nothing special about turning 23. You’ve already surpassed the legal age. The novelty of being in your twenties has long worn off. There isn’t even a Taylor Swift song about it.

23 is an uninteresting, insignificant, dull, unspecial age that’s not even close enough to 25 to fall under the realm of “mid-twenties.” It’s an age no one looks forward to because nothing interesting happens when you turn 23. I should know. I turned 23 last week and, honestly, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a year older now because, damn, 23 is a forgettable number. I already miss being 22.

Some time ago, a friend of mine shared something interesting about growing older. She told me that once you reach a certain age, you stop specifying exactly how old you are and instead just go with vague approximations like ‘late twenties’ or ‘early thirties’. Counting by tens is just easier, less painful. Once you’re officially off the teenage demographic, things kind of get murky and complicated. Everyone assumes that you already know – or  already should know – everything there is to know about the world and leave you to fend for yourself. Nobody’s around to give you any hints or tips on how to survive adulthood. We all just have to stumble around in the dark until eventually things start to fall into place.

When you stop counting your age, societal expectations start weighing much heavier on your mind. Getting a high-end job at an early age or getting married before thirty or even just getting your life together as early in your twenties as possible feel like requirements that you’re pressured to achieve or else. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like if I don’t achieve everything before I turn 25 someone might just pull a gun on me. And I’d deserve it. It’s dumb and ridiculous but that’s how weirdly pressured I feel. Like if I don’t accomplish literally all of what I assumed I was supposed to have achieved when I reach adulthood, I’d feel like a total failure. I’m 23 and I already feel like my teenage years was a decade ago and often look back on it wistfully… even though my teenage years were just awful and I wouldn’t want to actually go back to when I was an uncontrollably moody, angsty, confused teen even if someone paid me.

Anyway, I know that it’s all bullshit of course. I may be clueless as hell but I’ve come to realize that at least. There is no deadline for achieving anything, least of all your goals in life. Shows and movies might have led us to believe that adults should have their life together as early as their twenties (in some cases, even earlier than that) but reality isn’t anywhere near as pretty or as easy as Hollywood would have you believe. Fictional experiences are not a reflection of what it’s really like to start out as a fully functioning adult. If FRIENDS or How I Met Your Mother was accurate, living in New York must be a breeze and it’s not at all impossible to find an insanely spacious apartment in the middle of a bustling city.

Still… even though I’ve accepted that society’s pressure on fledgling adults is grossly disproportionate to reality’s standards – and inconsiderate of a heck ton of factors such as financial stability, cultural background, resources, etc. – I still can’t help but feel like I’ve already failed something. I’m not anywhere near my dream job. Hell, I don’t even know what my dream job is. I’m still shamefully dependent on my parents on almost everything. I have no direction in life at all. I’m just passively waiting for, I don’t know, something to happen. I’m just a teeny tiny step above a social recluse, which isn’t really all that impressive.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. But if I don’t rag on myself every now and again, I might just accept the passivity of my current state of affairs. It’s a trap that I’m terrified of falling into – being so complacent with my mediocre life that I’ll eventually stop trying and even dreaming of doing more, of actually challenging myself. I’ve never been much of a headstrong person. In fact, as a child, all I ever really wanted was to be left alone to my own devices. I still kind of do but now I’m more determined to make something of myself. The only problem is I have no idea where to begin.

I don’t really know what this blog post is for. Honestly, I just wanted to make this so I could bemoan the lack of a contemporary song celebrating turning or just being 23. I wholly blame Taylor Swift for this aimless post.

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