So, I’m turning 23.
I’m nervous. After all, I’ve heard that nobody likes you when you’re 23.
This is the first birthday I haven’t been entirely excited for. In fact, at times I’ve been wishing that it just wouldn’t happen. When I turn 23, I’ll be unmistakably adult. I was 22 for a few brief weeks in college, but I won’t be in school at all when I’m 23.
This mild angst has come with a side of nostalgia. I dug up my high school Livejournal (which was a mildly traumatizing experience – I didn’t capitalize anything), and I’ve been thinking a lot about who I used to be and how that impacts who I am now and who I am becoming.
Going back as far as I can remember, I’ve liked to think about how my past selves would interact with each other. Lying in bed at night, I would sleepily imagine chance encounters between older-mes and younger-mes. What would they think of each other? Would I recognize myself?
(So that you can imagine these visions for yourself, I present for your enjoyment a chronology of Amy, as seen through school photos):
When I think about who I used to be and how I have evolved over the years, there are a few certainties. I know for a fact that my 13-year-old self would be disgusted that my 15-year-old self gave up wearing only black, and would see my currently colorful wardrobe as a personal affront. Beyond that, it’s pretty much entirely conjecture what former-mes would think of present-me. However, I do know what present-me thinks of former-mes.
When I look back on my past selves, I want to be – and usually am – proud of them. Sure, some were immature, made poor decisions, or weren’t as nice to their younger brother as they could have been. Most of them had very questionable fashion sense. However, while it’s hard to be proud of shopping exclusively at Hot Topic or wearing a shapeless, shiny, vinyl-y disco dress to school on a regular basis, I can be proud of the 13-year-old who sported those parachute pants with chains and the 16-year-old who loved that disco ball dress, since both were attempting to discover and assert a creative and individual sense of self.
While I have a much better idea of who I am than I did then (or so I think), that is something I am still trying to do, and I’m sure that my 32-year-old self will look back and see exactly how much I’m still struggling.
(Full disclosure: I still have the glittery disco dress in question, but now it only comes out for costume parties.)
So, as I’m turning 23, I just hope that I’ll be able to stay happy and fulfilled and to keep up my creativity (and Italian and German) in the years to come.
Above all, I hope that I am never caught thinking that college was the best four years of my life.