I'm Feeling 22

We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.

Taylor Swift, the voice of our generation, is speaking the truth. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.

The early twenties is an interesting time in life. It’s crazy exciting (hello, graduating college!). It’s hella stressful (looking for jobs is the actual worst thing in the world). It’s super confusing (how does this whole adult thing work?) and it can be incredibly lonely (my friends now live 3 hours instead of 3 minutes away).

Currently, I’m unemployed. But if watching Parks and Recreation all day was a job, I’d be raking in that sweet, sweet dough. I am living the dream, and by the dream I mean having a fully stocked fridge at my disposal, while also living with my parents in my childhood home. There’s nothing more awkward than making the adjustment from young, wild, and free college days to entering your old bedroom and feeling like you’re in middle school again, because you forgot to take down the poster of Orlando Bloom that’s graced your wall since 6th grade.

22 years old, unemployed, college graduate and living at home. None of this is how I pictured it would pan out.

It’s okay to be a train wreck at 22. I have no idea what I am doing and you know what? THAT’S OKAY.

It’s okay to have a mediocre job that barely pays rent for an apartment that is only slightly bigger than a refrigerator box. It’s okay to sit on your parents’ couch and try your best to keep it together as you apply for yet another job and try your best to keep it together. It’s okay if you are on step three of your 100-step plan to becoming the high-powered career woman you always dreamed of being. All of these paths are valid and all of them are valuable.

I’ve learned a lot from being unemployed. I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of the Internet when it comes to wasting endless hours of time online. Who knew there were so many Buzzfeed quizzes I haven’t taken? Am I destined to marry Seth Cohen or Ryan Atwood? Do I remember all the words to a Michelle Branch song?

I’ve learned that working out is hard. Frankly, running sucks. No matter how skinny it makes me, I can’t bring myself to do it. I’ve learned that my college career may have taught me how to write a 25-page paper, bullshit my way through an 8 am class, and pull an all-nighter, but I have yet to see if it taught me how to get a job. And I’ve learned that none of us have our lives together. We are all just faking it. Except Beyoncé, because she’s flawless and knows how to run the world.

I’ve been so focused on getting a job that I haven’t stopped to realize that once I get a job, it will not magically fix all my problems. Sure, I’ll finally be able to spring for Spotify Premium and I’ll get to interact with someone other than my dog. But once I land that job, I’ll still be a newly graduated woman just trying to figure out my place in this world. If you have friends, family, and a bed to sleep in at night, then it’s okay if your life isn’t exactly as you imagined it would be. We still have the best years ahead of us. And despite the fun times at college, aren’t we all glad that isn’t the best life has to offer?

Per usual, Taylor was right. This year has been miserable and magical. I’ve been happy, free, confused, and lonely all in the same minute. I’ve accomplished feats I never thought I would (like seriously, who thought we would make it to graduation?) and struggled through some very tough times (I miss my friends, y’all!). But through it all, I’ve remembered that this is what being 22 is all about. It’s okay if we aren’t partners at a law firm. Serving coffee to the lawyers at Starbucks is enough for right now.

As Elle Woods squealed, “We did it!” We made it through college and this is just the beginning. Don’t be worried if you don’t have that dream job, if your apartment smells like ramen noodles because that’s all you can afford, or if your childhood bedroom is a little less roomy than you remember (at least Orlando Bloom is watching over me). It’s okay. We are 22 and everything will be all right.

Feature photo by Lauren Geiger