Why 23 Is The Age You’ll Leave Your Yolo Mentality Behind

Nobody likes you when you’re 23. An Instagram caption I used on my 23rd birthday last week, although I’m sure 99% of 23 year olds Googled what song that came from (including myself.) My basic-ness has not changed a bit.

I still suck at picking men; I learned that the hard way when I agreed to a date with a dude who’s greeting to the bartender was, “Ay, boo. Can we snag 2 brews?”

I pay my rent, although I’m not sure if that totally qualifies me as fiscally responsible. A paycheck still screams “clothes” rather than “retirement fund.” I can’t tell the difference between a free sample of red wine from Trader Joe’s and a $150 bottle of Cab.

I’m still directionally challenged, even in one of the most walkable cities in the country (DC). “Should I take M to 20th?” says the cab driver. My mouth responds “Yes,” but my brain says “Just pretend like you know what he’s talking about.”

Another year older, another year wiser? Maybe. Moving away from home and the familiar has challenged me in more ways than one – as it does for everyone. You learn how much Ubers actually cost. Hangovers on weekends used to be ok, but now it means doing laundry at obscene hours during the week since I couldn’t muster up the energy to do it on Sunday. And that totally sucks.

You want your life to be #goals, but you arent entirely sure what #goals entails. Your health, job, bills, social life, and overall well being are supposed to be in check at all times – and that’s what you let your followers on social media believe.

I put on a front, as we all do, that my life is a perfectly oiled machine. I hardly talk about the blood, sweat, and tears (a lot of them) that come with the life I chose at age 23.

Realities have smacked me hard across the face on multiple occasions. Like going out on a Thursday and being productive at work the next day, do NOT go hand in hand. Drunk pizza will make you gain weight, even if you run 7 miles the next day. Working a full day only to go straight to another job is exhausting, but necessary because your college loan forces you to.

Money never used to be the motivator in my YOLO college days, but lately I’ve been doing a lot less YOLO-ing and a lot more INTCUWAGIAW-ing (I need to come up with a grand in a week-ing.)

The point of this post is not to bash my life choices, because tbh I’ve been doing a pretty damn good job of making it work. Ok, maybe I don’t NEED to order food for lunch with a $5 delivery fee, but that turkey sandwich is totes necessary sometimes.

I’ve said this before, but perhaps luck has fallen on my side but it’s more than that. When you’re own your own and have no safety net, you make it work. You pick up that extra shift even if you had brunch plans with your friends. You understand that your credit card is not cash and face the reality that you can’t afford an extra bill to pay at the end of the month. Shopping sprees are no longer a past time.

My life is not perfect and I don’t know “all of the things you should know” at age 23. Meet me now, and in many ways I am the same as I was at age of 22.

Old habits die hard or they just stay habits.

I want an apartment with a dishwasher and enough counter space to cut more than a medium-sized butternut squash. I want the Whole Foods salad bar ALL OF THE TIME. A 40 hour work week? Yes please. To stop using my ex-boyfriend brother’s Netflix account and get my own. To be so irreplaceable in the field I’m in companies are fighting until the death to have me on their team (ok, dramatic but seriously.) To be the Olivia Pope of DC.

When you’re pushed in a direction of vulnerability and have no other options but to make it work, you find ways to make it work. I wouldn’t call it a “simple” concept to understand, but it’s one you quickly grow accustomed to when you, actually don’t have any other choice.

Maybe I don’t know half as much as I probably should at this age but I think I’ve nailed the basics of hustling to get by. Life isn’t freaking easy by any means, but as soon as you realize that you do not need to have it all figured out is when you can work with what you do have figured out.

I don’t know what 23 will bring but I do know a few things I want to leave behind in 22: Bros in pastel pants, cheap socks, Bank of America overdraft fees and hooking up with co-workers.

I don’t know about you but I’m feelin’ 23. Sort of.

Featured Image via Kristina Bazan

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