I'm turning 22 today.
Just writing it is weird.
In high school, I was always in the middle of my friends' birthdays; most of them aged up in April, a month after me. But in college, I'm one of the last ones, making my 22nd birthday today less of a novelty.
But leading up to 22 has felt different than my earlier birthdays. For one, it's the first year I haven't counted down the days until March 30. It's also the first year I forgot my birthday was coming up. At the Royal Ontario Museum last week, the ticket counter woman asked for my age and for a second, I wasn't sure. I thought I'd already turned 22.
Maybe that's because I've felt myself growing up a lot the past seven months as my school career comes to an end (for now). Suddenly I'm moving miles away from home, gradually becoming financially independent, leaving all my best friends behind, and dealing with a big empty question mark filling the next 10 years.
I hate not knowing, but I hate growing up even more. And 22 is the age where I'm left with no choice but to grow up.
My parents aren't kicking me to the curb and I'm moving to Disney World, of all places. I depend a ton on Mom and Dad. But I just came back from my first vacation I planned and paid for all on my own. As I drove the eight hours home exactly a week ago I realized I hadn't even asked permission to take this trip. I just told my parents I was going, and did it.
Come May, I'll have to slowly start establishing myself. Gradually, yes, but this is the time when I have to learn how to take care of myself by myself. I'm not saying I'll be alone; I'll always have my family. But I am going to need to lessen my dependence on them and strengthen my dependence on myself.
College prepared me for adulthood. I should be ready for this. I learned how to make friends I didn't grow up with and I'm no longer afraid to call people on the phone. I've been rejected enough times to understand working for what I want is going to take extra time. And I know I'm equipped with the knowledge and independence I need to tackle the world by myself.
Now I just need to believe it.
P.S. Since it is my birthday, I want to end this on a happier note. As I wrote this post a few days ago with my cat by my head and Winnie-the-Pooh mug in hand, I knew that my 22 years have been amazing. I should have no reason to suspect that the next 22 won't be as wonderful. Growing up isn't all bad. It just feels all bad when you're in your twenties and have no idea what to expect. One day, I'm sure, I'll understand that.