I turned 24 and nothing really changed. I feel mostly the same except for the world’s expectations of me got higher and its interest in me got lower. It’s odd getting older. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right or if it speaks to my weakness as a person that I still feel like a kid pretending to be an adult. In one more year I’ll be in my mid-twenties, kissing the perks and excuses of youth goodbye. I’m not ready. I honestly don’t want to grow older. If I could stay 24, perpetually young, I would.
Turning 24 has made me feel more worthless and privileged than ever before. Here I am, obsessed with the idea of staying young while too many people were never even given a choice about growing up. Through trauma and abuse, these people had to grow up because it was the only way they could survive. I complain and worry, but I got to have a childhood. I played Nintendo 64, searched for Easter Eggs, swam in the summer, and was blissfully ignorant of, at least for 13 years, the true financial states of my family members. I was lucky. I was privileged. My marginalized identities, like gay and bigender, don’t change that I have privilege nor that said privilege has caused me to intentionally or unintentionally marginalize others. While I complain to my partner and my friends about my adulthood worries, I rub my luck in their faces, disrespecting the journey they’ve had to endure. I apologize, always, when I feel I’ve made a mistake, but I never really know if they resent me beneath it all.
I wonder if someday the idea of growing up will be more appealing to me or if maybe it will terrify me less. I feel in many ways that I’ve survived but that I haven’t really lived, which is what everyone says because what is a fully lived life anyways, but I just want to feel my feelings. Crippled by anxiety, depression, and over thinking, I locked myself away in my room for far too long missing the chance to grow and help others grow by challenging myself to step into my chaos zone. I think too much chaos is a bad thing, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I spent years hiding from anything that even remotely triggered me. Even still to this day I do this, for even the smallest things. I will watch the same show on Netflix two or three times through, on repeat, instead of starting a new show because a new show might make me feel things and I don’t want to feel things. I’m 24 and I still panic getting on the phone. When things have relied on a phone call I’ve almost always given up unless someone literally forced the phone into my hand, or my job mandated it. I guess I didn’t need those jobs or refunds or help that badly.
This is all just mindless complaining because in the end I will continue to get older. I will have to change. My baby face will stop looking so babyish soon and I’ll be just another adult without the youthful charm that I think makes me special and interesting.
I just wonder, though, does it happen all at once? Will I look at a selfie one day and realize I look old? When that moment happens, how will I feel? If I’m anything like I am now, I’m most likely to do something reckless and dangerous like going online and buying all the vegan skin creams I can find, hoping that somehow these mushy concoctions can reverse time. The silver-lining in all this is that if I age anything like my Mom I’ll be really pretty for a long time.
I don’t know what tomorrow, let alone 24 has in store, but I’ve survived through arguably the most confusing and tumultuous times of one’s life and I’m still healthy and alive and a decent human being. Compared to all the bullshit of growing up–and the bullshit now–writing a novel or pitching magazines doesn’t sound so hard.