I have recently become obsessed with the number 22. This number seems to be following me everywhere. I check my phone and it is 2:22pm. When I check the volume level of my music in my car and it is 22. I look to see what page I am on in my book and 22 is typed in tiny black font in the lower corner. I schedule a flight home and it is on the 22nd of the month. I think about my age, and I am still 22.
I love music. While the limit does not exist to the number of times I can listen to Taylor Swift’s Red without getting sick of it, I have broadened my horizons. The other day, I had Norah Jones’ 2012 album Little Broken Hearts playing in the background while at work. I glanced at Spotify when a song came on I especially enjoyed the sound of and the track was titled “She’s 22.”
When I hear a song I like, I look up the lyrics.
If they resonate with me, I type them into a note I keep on my phone or write them down. My office desk is covered in yellow sticky notes with words sung by Ben Gibbard, Kate Nash, Mumford and Sons, Hozier, and Ella Fitzgerald. The words filling these small yellow sticky notes describe emotions surrounding love, home, confusion, understanding, loneliness, acceptance and potential.
After google searching the lyrics to “She’s 22” and listening to it on repeat, I decided to do some research. Taylor Swift, Norah Jones, and I could not be the only three people on earth fascinated by this number. I googled “songs about being 22.” I entered “22” into the search bar on my Spotify. I created a playlist of the songs that came up. The variety of artists and bands on my 22 playlist is wonderful to see. Many are ones I had long forgotten or never heard of. Who Do You Love written and recorded by Bo Diddley in 1956 is the oldest song on the playlist. It appears the confusion of the early 20’s has been a topic for over half a century.
The lyrics found on the yellow sticky notes stuck to my desk and the lyrics to the songs on my 22 playlist are speaking the same language. The words I hear my 22-year-old friends use when describing their current emotions and the lyrics to the songs on my 22 playlist are speaking their same language. The thoughts I think and the lyrics to the songs on my 22 playlist are speaking my same language.
If age is just a number, why is 22 in so many places?
Why does nobody like us once we turn 23?
In the office I work in, I am lucky to be surrounded by individuals representing a variety of life’s stages. Celebrating a one year wedding anniversary, becoming a grandfather, buying a new car, becoming a mom, and retiring. Despite how different each of these stages are, I have heard each individual experiencing them say “I need to figure my life out.” For so long I thought the “I need to figure my life out” was reserved for the early 20 somethings. But conversations around the walnut table in our break room is showing me that “I need to figure my life out” is open for anyone and everyone. I find comfort in this.
Maybe we see 22 in so many places because we will forever be 22. Maybe 22 is just a number; a number that serves as a representation for every age and every stage of life that we have the wonderful opportunity to experience and live through. Maybe 22 serves as a lesson on seeking comfort, in discomfort.
Love, home, confusion, understanding, loneliness, acceptance, and potential. Maybe 22 is a reminder that our images, definitions, and emotions associated with these 7 words are going to change until the day we die. Maybe 22 is about being okay with those changes.
We are forever 22.