This past year I’ve been feeling “old”, and before all you people older than me freak out (“Hey! You’re only 22! How do you think I feel?“), let me just say that it’s all a state of mind. I know, logically, that 22 is not “old”. Besides still listening to Taylor Swift, being 22 means you are probably one of the youngest in your workplace.
I used to work in the public sector and I still work part time at an ECE Center, so I have my fair share of working with and talking to moms and people much older than me. Oh, how they love to talk about their kids and where they are going on vacation. They tell me I am so “young” and I should go backpacking across the globe. Oh, how free they make me believe I am.
And then I return to school and realize that I’m a 5th year and that I am now plunging into a sea of 1st and 2nd years who are excited to join every club there is and go raving for the first time. And then I realize that it’s too loud at the clubs (forget the raves) and that actually, I’m too tired to go at all (“You mean you don’t go to bed at 10:30 pm?”).
So instead, I go for dinner and drinks with my friends (because we can afford a little more than McDonald’s now) and the next thing I know, it’s way past 10:30 pm but I don’t feel tired because we’ve been talking about the “good old days” and that makes us feel “young” again. We time travel together, each memory ending with “I can’t believe that happened” and beginning with “Oh, but remember when…!”
And that’s when it hits me because I remember me as a kid in an uncomfortable dress, sitting at a big round table in some Chinese restaurant, listening to my parents laughing with their friends. I remember wanting to go home because I was finished reading my book and the boys were done with their gameboys and the parents would say, “Yes, we should go home soon, the kids are getting tired!” but nobody would get up and the conversation continues. And I remember how boring I thought it all was, just sitting there talking about the past.
And here I am with my own friends, doing the same thing. The statement hovered in my mind in capitalized and bolded letters, “We are our parents.”
Oh, but I tell myself that it’s different because I don’t have any kids yet or a house or the haunting responsibilities of being a parent. But actually, it’s not that different because we are all talking about ourselves. Ourselves when we were “young”.
When I was in high school and when I was a kid, I never talked about the past with my friends. I didn’t talk about my elementary school days when I was in middle school. I couldn’t wait for high school. I couldn’t wait for university. We talked about the future.
Now, we don’t want to talk about the future. Nobody wants to talk about getting married, let alone mortgages or retirement. Isn’t that the moment when you truly feel “old”? When you stop daydreaming about the future and walk down memory lane instead?
I think we’re at an awkward age. Being 22 is like being 13- you’re kind of older but not old enough. We are “young adults” like how we were “preteens”. We are still excited about parts of our futures, like moving out, traveling, or finding a job we love- all the “young” parts of us. Simultaneously, we are clinging onto parts of our pasts, like how we used to ride bikes around the neighbourhood or how happy we were from just sitting next to our crushes.
As our 11 years of friendship trots along, I know these kinds of conversations and nights will occur more and more until our kids are dragging us by the sleeves telling us they want to go home.
Oh, how “old” will we feel then?
You can go through life and make new friends every year – every month practically – but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel.
― Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
P.S. the image is from an anime called Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. It is the story of a group of childhood friends who drifted apart over the years but come back together to fulfill a final goal.
P.P.S. Also a response to Daily Post’s prompt: I’ve Become My Parents