No, I’m not needy, you’re just an asshole.

— and other thoughts about being a twenty-something in 2016 —

2016 has become notable in many people’s lives for a variety of reasons, good or bad. For myself, it’s been the most educational year of my life in terms of understanding who I am as a person. I returned from studying abroad. I was in a relationship for the majority of the Spring Semester. I was broken up with, lost an election, and got a research proposal denied all in one week. I got a tonsillectomy as a 22 year old. I studied abroad a second time. I made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of successes.

I was mad. I was happy. I met myself.

Navigating my 20’s, the time frame in which we are supposed to learn how to “adult”, is no easy task for anybody. We live in a weird world of responsibilities, we have to start calling to make our own appointments, but somehow still manage to find ways to put off doing laundry for 3 weeks. Most everyone figures these new tasks out in their own way. The only thing that remains past this is the ghosts of expectations that we had for ourselves.

As children, we were fed the idea of soulmates, eventual spouses, children, settling down, having a life plan by the time that you’re 25; a fairytale that was recounted to us by our friends, family, books, television shows, and movies. By the time that we start to experience our first relationships, we’re left with a short time frame within this “life plan” that was continually ingrained into our subconscious. God forbid you throw a curve ball like being a different person than you expected to be into that plan. I know that my 5 year old self didn’t write my homosexuality into the plan that included me having 3 kids, a wife, and a mansion by the time I was 25.

Now this is all fine and dandy, but in 2016, we’ve been given an extra card that wasn’t originally advertised: modern dating. We live in the world where you’re only as valuable as the number of followers you have. We present ourselves in only the golden light because talking about our anxiety doesn’t get likes. On top of this, we both judge those who use dating applications and hypocritically check our tinders, grindrs, bumbles, etc. every hour in case we got a new message from that one cute guy.

So a false dream and a violently unstable dating scene, that’s all right?

Friends, I wish that was where it stopped.

Our societal expectations of each other have developed alongside our addictions to social media. We saw the rise of the fuckboi. We learned what a hookup is. We practiced how well we could ghost somebody. We became comfortable with disconnecting. The list goes on.

Back to 2016,

This year, I started saying “screw this” more often about a lot of things.

A boy that I started talking to begins to text me less and less until I don’t exist?

fuck this

A “friend” continually acts kind to my face but then has staunch opinions about me once I leave the room?

fuck this

A cheeto-colored, small-handed man that actively supports people who think I shouldn’t have basic rights in this country gets elected president by technicality?

fuck this

I start to notice that I mirror some of the tendencies that annoy me about others? I realize I’m guilty of ghosting? I have hooked up in the past? I have done this or that or this or that?

fuck me…i mean this

2016 has been the best year of my life if I consider how much growth I have made. I’ve been valuing my mental health more. I see a great therapist who helps me through a lot. I’ve been noticing things I don’t like about myself and I work through them. I call myself out, but I try not to devalue who I am or what I have become. I take active steps to not imitate those same behaviors that have harmed me. Sometimes I fail, but I’m getting better. This leads me to my main point and biggest discovery about myself and a lesson that I think the 20’s generation can learn:

We don’t have to stick around those people who devalue us.

This grand discovery that has been slipped into countless TV shows and movies has somehow gone unnoticed. We convince ourselves that we have to deal with these people for one reason or another, but that’s just a bold faced lie.

If they denounce any of your thoughts or beliefs because they think you don’t have the ability to have an opinion for any reason, fuck that

If you’re in a friendship that is based around you being used by the other person, fuck that

If someone calls you needy due to you seeking validation, advice, companionship, or any other kind of attention, fuck that

People who write you off, use you, or make you feel like your feelings are wrong are not those who are helpful to you becoming the best version of yourself.

These kinds of people aren’t doing these things just because it’s what the idea of “relationship” has become, they’re just assholes.

Obviously getting to know and understand yourself is a lifelong process, but maybe there is some validity to the myth of “figuring your life out in your 20's”. I know that 2016 has been doozy, but the fact that learning about myself and the value that I have is a milestone that I think I will reflect back on in the future. Maybe our culture will change to value communication, maybe it will go a different direction; the only thing we can count on is that we don’t have to let ourselves be affected either way.

I was mad. I was happy. I met myself.

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