We’re So Young

In less than two weeks, I turn 23.

This is horrifying, I know. I agree — the thought of being closer to 25 than 20 makes my stomach flip. I feel like a witch that’s obsessed with eternal youth; trying to grasp at whatever serum it is to keep me young forever. School has also taken off a few years of my life. Last week I walked out of a midterm (that I studied for!) and felt in my bones that I completely blew it. It wasn’t five minutes later that I was searching online for my university’s academic probation policy — after one midterm. One midterm that I didn’t even know the mark for yet and I’m freaking out about failing and being a failure for the rest of my life.

And then I realize how god damn young I am, and how many more years I have to mess up completely and choose the wrong thing and fix it and then do that all over again — hopefully for another 60 years.

Having said that.. I had a dream the other night that I died. Depressing, right? In my dream, I watched everyone I love talk about how I was too young, how I had such potential, how I should’ve had more time to pursue the things I dreamt of pursuing. This was not her time, I remember someone saying. It’s true; it probably wasn’t my time. My mother used to repeat the same phrase that her father repeated to her when she was young: you’re dying from the day your born. I hated hearing it, it bothered me when she said it. I was, and still am, afraid of death. The thought of being alive one second and dead the next kept me up when I was younger. But now I understand why she would say it, even if it bothered me; she was reminding me that at any moment all of this could be gone, so do what you can while you’re here.

That phrase reminded me a lot of Marina Keegan, a girl that wrote incredibly moving essays and stories that were compiled into a book after her passing. I don’t even like using the past tense when speaking about Marina, because she continues to live on — especially in my own life. Yesterday was Marina’s 26th birthday and I’m sure she had a beautiful day writing somewhere in the sun, since she radiated like it. I think about her essay, which the book is named after, The Opposite of Loneliness, a lot. We’re so young. We’re so young. she says, after speaking about how the best of our years — the 22 of them — are not behind us. That the best of our years are ahead — when we are figuring things out and loving people and moving around the country and watching our own story unravel in front of our very own eyes.

She speaks about regrets and how our insecurities, the private ones that no one knows about besides the voice in our own head, will continue to follow us, regardless of what we do about them. We all put so much pressure on ourselves to be the people we think we should be by now. So-and-so is married and has a nice job, so I should be married and have a nice job already before it’s too late. What the hell is too late, anyways? Why are we restricting ourselves to a timeline that has been constructed by society? We don’t have to have anything completed by a certain time — as long as we are happy, that’s all that should matter. Marina didn’t get the time she deserved, but she did incredible things with the time that she had.

We are so young. We have a lot of time, even if we are dying since the day we were born. So, to the ones that are stressed out about school and getting perfect marks, or to the ones that don’t know what direction your life is going in, or to the ones that just feel old: you are so young. Try to do the best with what you have with the time you’ve got. As Marina says: We’re in this together. Let’s make something happen to this world.

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