Always 24

Unsteady, unwavering uncertainty tumbles out in a quick, quivering breathe. I am not so many things and one of those things is sure. If there’s one thing I am steadily certain in, it’s my uncertainty. If uncertainty is certain it is one certain consistency in my life.
I am in this prime, precious time that I do not want. Anyone can take this crossroads from me. I’m bad at making decisions and I don’t “know” myself. The possibilities are so vast and simultaneously limited that I’m overwhelmed. I feel this rising nervous heat bubbling over into panic. Nervous, uncertain panic because “what if I make the wrong choice”.

Approaching college graduation, and 22, I didn’t feel the walls closing in. I only saw one, extreme way out. At that point, I had so many things not working in my favor: my mother was gone, my grades were barely passable, I didn’t have a home to go back to and I’d put all my eggs in this one unreachable basket. I wasn’t drowning with everyone else, I’d chosen to remove myself from the ocean. There was no safety net, emotional displacement guaranteed that. Plus, it had always been my only plan.

What I decided was barely a possibility happened and now I’m serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. And in the midst of everything that comes with peace corps life I felt comfortingly calm. It was nice to have a home again and, more importantly, a bed.
Now, I’m approaching the door of my service, with winding roads across the threshold. And I have to choose one–and they all lead somewhere. For the first time, I’ll be an adult in the traditional sense. There’ll be no one to hold my hand. There’ll be no mother to help me call customer service because I’m too afraid to call. Then, there’s the possibilities of rejection and failure and the pressure to further succeed if I achieve something and not fall into complacency. And there’s questions, and fears, and possibilities. I can’t do what I did at 22, I’m no longer emotionally missing from my body. So, what do I do?

I’ve heard the saying that “You don’t know what you are until you know what you’re not”. And I hope that’s true. I want that to be mantra. I want my life to be a lifetime of trail and error; of certain uncertainty. I want to feel this hopeful nervousness when I’m 35. I want to feel this vastness of possibilities when I’m 70. I wish I’d felt it when I was 22. But, here it is in full bloom at 24. And I’m ready to not be ready. Because, though I still don’t have the things that I didn’t have at 22, I have gained more than I can count. I’m not who I used to be. I am not 22 and depressed. I’m 24 and panicked and happier than I’ve been in a long time. And I love to loathe this prime, precious time that I’m in. Here’s to always being 24.


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