Life Doesn’t Hate You When You’re 23 (Even Though It Feels Like It Does)

You’re 23 years old, fresh out of college, and you’re pretty sure that life hates you. Nights surfing Indeed with a glass of wine in hand have replaced your wild nights of blackout bar-hopping. Your college crew is spread throughout the country, posting veritable photoshoots at beaches, mountains, and meadows while you’re shaking down the cushions of your hand-me-down couch, hunting for spare change. You’re subsisting on peanut butter sandwiches and tears, wondering if your life will ever improve. 

Does it ever get better?

You apply to job after job with your brand-new degree, hoping and praying for the elusive “yes” that promises to solve all of your problems. But that marketing agency “wants to go in a different direction.” That PR company “has selected a better-suited candidate.” And that law firm “wishes you the best in your legal endeavors,” but the answer is no. Heck no. As you grow frantic, worrying about how you’ll be able to accumulate more than 78 cents in your bank account, let alone pay off your student loans, remember that although you haven’t yet established yourself in your career, the right job will come when you least expect it and most need it. So don’t push back after every rejection — the perfect company will see your potential and finally choose you.

Your boyfriend dumps you, leaving you heartbroken.

He was “the one,” the one who would get down on one knee, the one you would say “yes” to, the one you planned to spend a lifetime with. But now, you’re curled up in his sweatshirt at 2 am, crying about how much you miss him, and wondering if the dating scene looks any more promising at 24, 25, 26. When do guys stop asking if you’re “DTF” and start asking you to meet the parents? And why won’t anyone on Bumble message you back, for crying out loud? But even as you begin to believe that your love life has gone down the drain forever, remember that every “ghost,” every first date you’d rather forget, every walk of shame brings you one step closer to holding your forever person in your arms.

You feel anxious nearly every day, about the future, about the present.

You’re young and you’re hot, but your mind can’t stop racing, obsessing over what a raging dumpster fire your life seems to be. You’ve tried everything you can think of to slow it all down: drinking until you’re hungover, going to therapy, breathing deeply, watching those hokey YouTube self-help videos, but nothing seems to help the fact that you’d rather not exist. No matter how down on yourself you feel, though, keep trying. Keep plugging away at therapy. Start medicating without a glass of Franzia. And remember that even though this is a ridiculously hard time in your life, it will soon be over, and you will find everything you hope for now.

It definitely feels like life (along with everyone and everything else) hates you when you’re 23, but maybe it doesn’t. Maybe 23 is simply a gateway to bigger, better things, an opportunity for you to build the life you were meant for. So as you slump down on your hideously-patterned sofa after your draining 9-5, stop mourning what could have been and start celebrating what could be. Your future’s up to you, so make it fulfill your dreams — because life is full of infinite possibilities when you’re 23.

Previously published on Thought Catalog.

Featured Photo by Kinga Cichewitz on Unsplash.


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