The Uncertainty of 23

Being 23 years old is a weird thing. In this post, I want to talk about exactly what it feels like to be 23.

As birthdays come and go, people tend to ask me every year if this particular birthday feels different than the last or if I "feel" older. I usually answer that I feel pretty much the same: turning 22 didn't make me feel much different than when I was 21. However, 23 felt different weeks before my birthday happened. The impending age up made me feel anxious and a bit unsettled as it approached. I was truly dreading turning 23 because I had a feeling about how it would make me feel. When I think about the responsibilities that I have right now or then I'm anticipating, it fills me with a sense of uncertainty or anxiety. 

As it stands right now: I'm 23 years old living with my parents and working full-time from home. I think that, on the path of life that I've been planning since age 5, I'm pretty much on course for where I thought I would be. I thought I'd have a job and I do. I thought I'd be in a relationship and I am. Your 20's is supposed to be a time where you have a lot of freedom, but I find myself fighting with my mind about the most 'responsible' path to take.  I could take two different routes in my life right now: I can jump in and take something that's higher risk and adventurous or I could play it safe and stay where I am.

I think it's so crazy that as a 23-year old there's an expectation for how put together you should be. I'm sure it's not the same for everyone, but there's a subconscious pressure to achieve certain checkpoints by this age. You have to have a degree, you have to have a full-time job relevant to your career, you have to be self-sufficient. Only 1 month into being 23 and I can already feel the weight of these expectations, whether it be self-inflicted or not. Before this year, I didn't really think about how I was perceived by others professionally because I felt young and 'like I had time'. Being a new grad, it felt okay to be inexperienced but at this point, you look around and realize no one wants someone fresh out of the gate or even a year out of the gate. 

My free time mostly comes on the weekends when I'm not working, which is something else I've been thinking about these days as well. A lot of friends I speak with these days are trying to land a job while simultaneously also trying to escape the rat race that is a 40-hour workweek for the next 40 years. I'm stuck between needing to work to earn money/experience and also wanting a stress free life sans money and just focusing on living well. This is another area where I try to weigh the practicality of my dreams and walk the line between things that can actually happen and dreams. 

As time passes, I can feel how transient the flexibility to go anywhere and do anything really is, and I think that's given me a new perspective on life and how I want to live it going forward. I want to take advantage of the time I have to travel, study, and enjoy myself. I've been considering getting my master's degree abroad next year. I've been hanging out with friends more often, taking my time and trying to be more intentional with things I do. 

To anyone reading this right now having the same worries: just know that by doing your best, you're doing enough. At 23, don't expect to know exactly what kind of life you want to have! It's okay to be uncertain and try different things. Take it one day at a time and don't put pressure on yourself, just try to enjoy life :) `