My favorite college roommate and I had a running joke around the time we turned 21. We decided that we weren’t old until we hit 22. I never put much thought into it beyond the first six months of being 21 but recently I’ve reflected how being “old” helped me grow up.
When I turned 22, I was in my last semester of college and I was making plans for what I’d do once December 14, 2010 hit. I was going to get my master’s degree in History from my alma mater, move to live with my grandma in a small town in Illinois, and get closer to my boyfriend at the time, with plans to be married ASAP and start our family. Obviously, none of this happened.
The week before graduation, I received an email from La Voz, a bilingual newspaper in Denver, with a request for an interview. I had given them my resume at a job and internship fair in February and subsequently heard nothing else from them for eight months. I agreed to the interview, to the chagrin of my boyfriend. I was excited for the opportunity and when I got home with all my things, my mom and I ran out and selected an outfit for my interview: dark gray slacks and vest and a light purple button up blouse. I also purchased three pairs of dress socks and a pair of kitten heels.
Monday rolled around and I went to my interview, nervous as never before. Then we went to Illinois for Christmas and I was able to spend time with my boyfriend while there and we talked about where we were and where we were headed. I wanted to be with him and he with me. After we returned from Illinois, I waited impatiently for a response on whether I had been selected, even calling nearly every day to talk with my soon-to-be boss. Just after the first week of January, I found out that they wanted me for the position! I accepted and promptly told my boyfriend, asking him to wait for me, which he agreed to do.
He broke up with me a month later, saying he couldn’t wait, he needed to start a family now. I accepted that and moved on into my job and dedicated myself completely to it. This was the first of many relationships where my job dedication would trump relationships and skew my view of the world. I began spending time with my lesbian friend and her other friends, going out once or twice a week. I’d get drunk and then drive home (stupid me). I’d bring guys over to my house when my parents weren’t home, one time leaving for work while still drunk. I remember opening my door in a heavy traffic jam to vomit on the side of the highway. I made a lot of amateur mistakes and took a lot for granted. I also began to accept comfort in my position within the company.
They couldn’t fire me because if they did, I’d refuse to train my replacement. I took classes at the local community college to improve myself as a graphic designer and to learn what it really is all about. I bettered myself for the company and bettered myself for myself. I read blogs about how to make choices, how to approach difficult situations, and how to make myself invaluable.
I decided to make myself better and lost 70 pounds from 2012-2013. I felt and looked great. I decided to get my motorcycle license and took the class in April. I got into a fight with two friends that Saturday and lost them both in one fell swoop. I tried sporadically to rekindle friendship with one, only to receive responses like “I thought you weren’t talking to me.” So, I stopped trying. I want nothing but the best for him but I also want more than the best for myself.
So, yes, 22 is old. It’s when I grew up, when I decided to stop being a child and start being an adult, making decisions like they mattered and allowing myself to grow without guidance. Now, this old lady has a few papers to write!