In a similar (or not so similar) vein to Taylor Swift’s 22, I am feeling 23. 23 is a weird age.
I feel like an adult but oddly inexperienced and youthfully spirited (the latter I’ve been told by some of my older co-workers). I can’t take myself seriously in my professional dress when I go to school or a conference and when I’m at networking events I feel like I have to constantly assert myself to counter the ‘college intern’ feeling I’ve been mistaken to be. Whenever I have conversations about education or teaching, I feel like an imposter (yes, some of it is the unfortunate imposter syndrome many women feel in the professional world) because I am so young and my experience is definitely limited. And although this feels kind of frustrating and stressful right now, I know feeling this way isn’t necessarily bad. So, to remind myself of the fortunate aspects of being a young professional and having a lot of my life ahead of me, I’ve decided to compile a more light-hearted list of what being 23 means to me or sometimes entails.
I know my fertility clock or ‘biological motherly instinct’ is kicking in, but I’m actively not being consumed by it: #ImplantStatus
Some of my friends are more family-oriented than I am and have their fertility on their mind quite frequently (which is okay! It’s just not for me). The biological truth is, there is a certain point when women can’t healthily bear a child. Also, menopause is a thing that’s far away but still very real. So, we’re on a clock people! And that’s okay. I don’t feel like my “clock is ticking” and I resent that sometimes anxiety-ridden, stressful notion. I don’t want this image of a clock ticking away to define the next decade or so of my life. My life and my future should not be limited, manipulated, or controlled by my ability or decision to have kids. And furthermore, I don’t want to be paralyzed by this biological clock or have it put unwarranted pressure on me. I also have other things I’m passionate about and yes, sure – family planning is important and meaningful in some people’s lives and maybe someday it will be in my life – but right now, I’m 23 and I’m not going to be consumed by or worried about it. So (to avoid any unexpectedness), I got the birth control implant and it’s working wonders. I highly recommend it.
I don’t love going out to the bars or house parties as much as I did in college, but I swear I’m not turning into a grandma.
Yes, there have been several Friday nights where I have stayed in my bed watching a documentary with a glass of red wine. And maybe some of those times have embarrassingly but admittedly included doing some lesson planning and grading for the following school week but I swear, I’m not turning into a grandma. Sure, the bar-hopping and house parties with friends are not happening as much as it did when I was living in the heart of Boston and attending college, but I honestly don’ t want to bar-hop and go to house parties as much as I used to. One night a weekend is fine with me but I sometimes look forward to a night-in by myself or with my boyfriend more than a long night out in Memphis. So call me a grandma if you want, I’m just calling myself 23.
Taking care of myself is embarrassingly a struggle at times.
Yes, I am an adult and yes I should know how to 100% take the best care of myself. But last night I ate Ramen noodles for dinner at 9:00 PM after holding bowling team tryouts for the high school I teach at and then working with my co-teacher. I’m not typically this unhealthy or dependent on large quantities of sodium but Ramen is affordable and my teacher’s salary is not the loftiest. Sometimes I get back so late from my teaching job that I miss the classes at the gym I signed up for and by the time I get home I’m too exhausted to cook a nutritious dinner. I don’t know how people manage and take care of families! And it’s not that I’m lazy – it’s that I’m doing too much, all of the time. With that being said, I am slowly but surely learning how to prioritize my self, my health, and my overall wellbeing but that does require time. I’ve always loved being busy. In fact, it invigorates me and make me feel more purposeful in my life. But, post-grad busyness is very different from attending on-campus student organization meetings, sorority functions, and study sessions while in college. This type of busyness is getting in the way of taking care of myself like an adult. And I know that needs to change. I can’t survive on Ramen forever.
But hey, being 23 is pretty great.
By no means is this any type of advice column or insightful tips on how to navigate through the somewhat awkward age of 23, but maybe some of what I’m experiencing at 23 resonates with you. More power to the age then. I’m half a grown-up, half a post-grad nervous/unsure/inexperienced human. And that is OKAY. I am doing the best I can although admittedly making a fool out of myself 9 times out of 10…but I’ll get there. I’m still figuring out how to be a public school teacher and gain the respect of my students who are only 6 years younger than me. Our 20s are a learning process and they can be beautiful, magnificent, and hard. But I’m trying to be present in all of those awkward, unsure, distressing, and humiliating moments. Because those are the moments at 33 that I’ll wish I was still 23.