I remember a couple years ago reading one of those tumblr, hipster quotes with the words “nobody likes you when you’re 23.” I shrugged it off and continued scrolling not thinking about it again until these past couple of days knowing how it feels like that quote rings true and that it actually came from a song (shoutout to Blink-182).
Whenever April comes around, I get more reflective than usual and process my past 11 months on this earth. There’s always new situations popping up, different people appearing and disappearing from my life but what doesn’t change is my love for the moments that stem from waking up and getting to live another day (I just cringed re-reading that but bare with me folks).
23 has been a fucking grind. College is almost two years past and I no longer feel the glow of being an excited college graduate ready to take on the world and tote my meticulously edited resume to any company who can give me a start in the professional world. When I moved to New York two months after turning 22 and graduating, a big part of me honestly didn’t think I’d make it. I mean with no friends, family or job offers waiting for me when I got to Penn Station, it seemed almost impossible that I could make a life for myself here (let alone thrive and be successful).
But as I type this blog post sitting on my bed in Brooklyn for a website that I don’t update often enough (my apologies for the people who actually like my jumbled thoughts typed) I feel happy that I accomplished one of the biggest goals I had as a kid growing up. As cheesy as it sounds, I use to visualize myself living in a big city, not exactly knowing what I wanted to do job wise (maybe because I was like 12) but knowing that I wanted to wake up every day excited to live the life I’m living and motivated to work toward something that I actually cared about. For the most part, I’ve done that and more…
Through a rocky six months, I finally found a job that could pay the bills, a (legitimate) place to live and friends that consistently give me great memories to look back on came soon after. Later on a podcast idea, a ton of thoughts and reflections written out in my notes app and a pretty clear idea of how I want to spend the rest of my 20s dominated my brain for most of the year.
Aside from career goals and being on “grind mode” I think my favorite part of 23 was last summer when I broke down those last walls of fear and let myself be completely vulnerable to life and my feelings (awkward moments and all). You see when it comes to being a man and having feelings (specifically black men), I feel like most of us are raised to have none at all when growing up. We’re taught to be strong. Don’t ever let anyone fuck with you. Don’t ever forget that this world owes you nothing and a significant group of people in this world is waiting for the chance to tear you down and strip you away from your freedom so you need to work harder than any of your “lil friends” and take advantage of your opportunities.
We grew up or let me speak for myself and say I grew up suppressing a lot of inner turmoil because I thought to be strong, you have to work on your issues in private. Be that positive presence and others live and protect the people you love by putting your focus on them. Thankfully a few important people in college showed me that there’s strength in vulnerability and honesty. It’s the best feeling in the world when you have people in your life whether it be family, friends or a significant other and they support you exactly as you are.
23 was a lot of me being honest. Telling other people how I felt about myself, the world, and certain situation(ships) I was in but I realized that a lot of people are still afraid to truly be themselves. To speak up when they see something wrong or they feel like they aren’t being treated right. I like to think that quote “no one likes you when you’re 23” rings true because around this age, you’re figuring out who you are, what you want and you aren’t afraid to lose people if they aren’t meant to continue this journey with you. Maybe “no one” likes you because you’ve veered off onto your own path and it doesn’t make sense to everyone else yet. Or maybe you’re just an asshole that needs to be a lil more self aware. Either way we should always be evolving and this energy of figuring yourself out and wanting more from life shouldn’t die as you get older. Keep that 23 mindset (except the asshole part, if you’re one…).
This post feels long as fuck so I’ll wrap it up with saying that this year I’ve learned or maybe just constantly been reminded that we all only have one life to live. It could last for decades. It could end way too soon. But we get to fill up all the memories within it that we hopefully take with us after we go.
So while it’s important to plan ahead and think of the future, it’s essential to live in the present. I realize that as fucking corny as it sounds… you really will never be as young as you’re this very minute (don’t quote me on that because some people are working hard for the antidote to live forever). Your commitments will increase as you get older. Loved ones will pass and all you’ll have left are photos, memories and sadness thinking that you wish you had more time with them.
As I start year 24 I want to make sure I’m always preparing for the future but truly living life right now. I’m not going to reach where I want to be anytime soon but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be enjoying where I am at the moment. Let’s continue creating some moments to look back on later.