Over the years, while basking in a post-birthday glow, I’ve always liked to reminisce about where I was the year before and how much has changed. Usually there are little things, like “I can finally afford Uber on nights out!” and “most of my clothes don’t come from Forever21 anymore!” However, now that I’m officially in my mid-to-late (gulp) 20s, I’ve been reminiscing about my formative years as a 20-whatever, from college to city. Each year has special milestones and memories, so I thought I’d put together a list ranking these years so far. So, my wonderful readers, enjoy my little stroll down memory lane.
A 20-Whatever’s Guide to My Early 20s
Ugh. 20 sucked. To be fair, for the first few months I was still in living in Argentina and it was glorious. But once I was back in the States, I was: still in college, no job prospects, couldn’t drink with my friends, broke up with my college boyfriend, worked a terrible summer job for a few months, fought with my parents constantly…. the list goes on. Bai 20 see u never.
22 was such a weird year. The day after my 22nd birthday is the day I moved to New York City, so I will forever love that year for nostalgic purposes, but when you drop a recent college graduate into this city, a lot of weird things happen. I was new to the workforce and trying to learn a job, while new to the city and trying to learn my way around. I still hadn’t figured out how to drink in public responsibly so at some point in this year I puked in a cab after a pregame and then ran out of the cab without paying before the driver noticed. I was consistently broke and lived in an apartment with a stripper, who would get home from work at 5 a.m. and proceed to sing loudly in the bathroom while she got ready for bed – the bathroom that was only accessible through my bedroom. I’ll give T. Swift the benefit in that I had some sweet dance moves at 22, but I could leave the rest of the learning experiences behind in my early 20s, thankyouverymuch.
Oh, 24. The year you’re old enough to look disdainfully on the youths running rampant in the Upper East Side but not too old to black out during unlimited sake/sushi in Koreatown, screeching a heartbreaking (if I say so myself) rendition of My Heart Will Go On with your best friend, while his boyfriend looks at you like you’re insane. 24 was great for a while, but things started to fall apart somewhere in this year, so it just wasn’t my favorite. Sorry 24. You tried.
How do you not love 21. My 21st birthday is only edged out by my 25th for most fun: it was a Monday about 2 weeks into senior year of college. My soul sister E planned a party at our on-campus townhouse apartment, complete with handmade banners and Skippy, the delectable college brew of cheap beer, cheaper vodka, and Country Time Lemonade mix. We invited people haphazardly, thinking a Monday crowd would be a small one, people trickling in on occasion; we ended up with probably 40-50 people cycling in and out of the apartment throughout the night. There was a fistfight over leftover pizza and I woke up in my party dress on the couch, a half-eaten cookie next to my face. 21 is when I started dating the one-time love of my life, it’s when I graduated college and when I made the decision to come to New York. 21 rocked.
This was a tough call as the runner-up, but 23 was a fantastic year, kicked off with what is still the craziest birthday party I’ve ever had: on my brother’s rooftop on a perfect late summer night, loud music and everyone I loved. That was a full year of happiness in the delicious, wonderful, perfect, still-new-but-maybe-serious stage of a relationship, half learning and growing, half enraptured in each other like we might make it to forever. That was a year where I partied in the Hamptons on my boss’s lawn, the year I fell in love with Washington Heights after countless trips to visit my lovely friend M, and had the craziest Oscars party to date; the year where I was just old enough to enjoy the city while learning limits, the year I discovered my favorite little tapas bar in Manhattan, and just a year of happy moments. I don’t remember all of them anymore, marred with time and a changed life, but I look back on that year with all fondness.
Let’s be real for a minute: the past year for me has been an absolute disaster. In no particular order, I: dealt with a broken shower for 2 weeks; changed jobs; resigned a lease on an apartment I wasn’t supposed to stay in; spent six months trying to convince my landlords to fix my door (STILL BROKEN); fought more than once with more than one friend; budgeted and rebudgeted and still subsided on coffee and peanut butter for three full days before pay day on more than one occasion; broke my own heart when I ended what I thought was The Relationship; met the person I thought would change my life on the A train and had my heart broken all over again. It’s a lot for anyone to live through in such a relatively short period of time, and I’ve never felt more confused and alone trying to pull through it all. This year has beat me bloody and picked me up for another round. I’ve handled blow, after blow, after blow, just waiting for a reprieve, hoping maybe this is the day things will turn around.
But it’s also the year I learned more about myself than ever. I found out I can run a Spartan Race and subsequently brag about it for months, paint an entire living room in under 48 hours and plan a trip to Texas in under two weeks that was quite literally the time of my life. It’s when I discovered yoga, my favorite part of my day, and added to my tattoo collection, my favorite parts of my body. This is the year I watched someone I used to play Barbies with walk down the aisle and say yes to the love of her life; this is the year I watched my sister say yes to a lifetime with the person she was always supposed to meet. I had countless Sunday Fundays with the Nickname Posse, from fall football to cozy winter brunches to spring picnics in Fort Tryon and summer wine on my fashionista C’s roof. This is the year I let myself open up to love, the year I learned where my walls are and what someone will need to do to break them down. And most importantly, it’s the year I finally learned that I really, really can’t go out two nights in a row anymore unless I want to sacrifice two full days to third circle of hangover hell.
Looking at the list, it seems I don’t have great luck with even years, but all things considered, I didn’t have luck at all times with the odd ones either. So here’s to 26, all of the memories to be made, and all the fabulous PLDs to chronicle along the way.
Huh, you make growing up not look so bad.
I try! Though I don’t know that I’d consider myself grown up yet, I’m certainly having a good time getting there.
Thanks for reading!